Thoughts for the Day

Wednesday, 21st September 2022: Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist

Sinners Tax-collectors Pharisees Evangelist Apostle Matthew 9 Matthew Jesus

Reading : Matthew, Chapter 9

St Matthew

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up and followed him.

And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax-collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax-collectors and sinners?’ But when he heard this, he said, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.’

(Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)


Today we celebrate the feast of Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist. You can look up Thoughts 2021 to see more about his life. Matthew, we know, was a tax collector and as such he collected taxes for the Romans. In Galilee the old system of auctioning off these posts had now come to an end, but the ability to syphon off money for oneself was still there. Taxes were paid for different reasons. There was the ground tax which ordered all men to pay one tenth of their grain and one fifth of the produce of their fruit and vines. Then there was the poll tax which was paid by every man and woman. There were also import and export duties to be paid, from two and a half to twelve and a half per cent on all goods, as well as taxes to cross bridges, enter harbours or towns, and then there was purchase tax on goods bought or sold. The possibilities for abuse were immense, since ordinary people would be unlikely to know exactly what they they should pay. Of course there was also the Temple tax, which went to the work of the Temple, and not to the Romans.

Tax-collectors could become very wealthy very quickly, and while we have no reason to think Matthew copied others, he would have been tarred with the same brush and heartily disliked by most people. This is the man whom Jesus calls to be his disciple! These are the men he broke all the rules for, by eating a meal with them! These are the sinners he called to repentance! These are the ones he wanted in his Kingdom!


Lord Jesus Christ,
as You astounded the pious in Galilee
when You called Matthew,
a tax-collector to follow You,
so You call us each day
to walk in Your footsteps,
and You absolve our sin
when we truly repent.
May we constantly accept
this invitation to follow You
and in doing so never forget
the generosity of the offer.

Follow Up Thoughts

You might like to look at this article about taxation at the time of Jesus.

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