July 28, 2010 – Matthew – Our Personal GospelThe Gospel of Matthew was written in Aramaic sometime around the middle of the first century, most likely before the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. From the introduction of Matthew’s Gospel in my mother’s 1960 Confraternity-Douay Bible, page 7 of the New Testament, we read:
“St. Matthew . . . was the son of Alpheus and was called to be an Apostle while sitting in the tax-collector’s place at Capharnaum [sic] . . . His apostolic activity was at first restricted to the communities of Palestine. Nothing definite is known about his later life. There is a tradition that points to Ethiopia as his field of labor; other traditions make mention of Parthia and Persia. It is likewise uncertain whether he died a natural death or received the crown of martyrdom . . .
“His Gospel was written to fill a sorely felt want for his fellow-countrymen, both believers and unbelievers. For the former it served as a token of his regard and as an encouragement in the trial to come, especially the danger of falling back into Judaism; for the latter it was designed to convince them that the Messias [sic] had come in the Person of Jesus, our Lord, in whom all the promises of the messianic kingdom embracing all people had been fulfilled in a spiritual rather than in a carnal way: ‘My kingdom is not of this world’. His Gospel, then, answered the question put by the disciples of St. John the Baptist, ‘Art thou he who is come, or shall we look for another’?”
After reading these words about the man and his story, we might spend some time thinking about ourselves with these three questions.
- If we are asked by another to describe what we believe and why we believe it, how would our personal Gospel read and whom would we be encouraging?
- If we are asked to commit our beliefs to a paper or electronic document of faith, what would we write to explain our fervor for Christ?
- If someone were to write a few introductory paragraphs for this Gospel that describe who we are, how we have come to be apostles of Christ, and how we enact our belief, what will be said of us?
We are all apostles of Christ, and we each live out his story in our unique way. When our Gospel is written and the descriptive paragraphs are compiled that chronicle our spiritual career, how will they read? Whom will they inspire? And will we recognize the chronicled life as our own?