ST. MATTHEW - INTRODUCTION
THE HOLY GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST, ACCORDING TO
This and other titles, with the names of those that
wrote the Gospels, are not the words of the Evangelists themselves. The Scripture itself nowhere teacheth us, which books
or writings are to be received as true and canonical Scriptures. It is only by the channel of unwritten traditions,
and by the testimony and authority of the Catholic Church, that we know and believe that this gospel, for example of St. Matthew,
with all contained in it, and that the other books and parts of the Old or New Testament, are of divine authority, or written
by divine inspiration; which made St. Augustine say, I should not believe the gospel, were I not moved thereunto by the
authority of the Catholic Church: Ego Evangelio non crederem, nisi me Ecclesiœ Catholicœ commoveret auctoritas.
(Lib. contra Epist. Manichœi, quam vocant fundamenti. tom. viii. chap. 5, p. 154. A. Ed. Ben.) (Witham)
St. Matthew, the author of the gospel that we
have under his name, was a Galilean, the son of Alpheus, a Jew, and a tax-gatherer; he was known also by the name of Levi.
His vocation happened in the second year of the public ministry of Christ; who, soon after forming the college of his apostles,
adopted him into that holy family of the spiritual princes and founders of his Church. Before his departure from Judea, to
preach the gospel to distant countries, he yielded to the solicitations of the faithful; and about the eighth year after our
Saviour's resurrection, the forty-first of the vulgar era [A.D. 41], he began to write his gospel: i.e., the good tidings
of salvation to man, through Christ Jesus, our Lord. Of the hagiographers, St. Matthew was the first in the New, as Moses
was the first in the Old Testament. And as Moses opened his work with the generation of the heavens and the earth, so St.
Matthew begins with the generation of Him, who, in the fulness of time, took upon himself our human nature, to free us from
the curse we had brought upon ourselves, and under which the whole creation was groaning. (Haydock) ---This holy apostle,
after having reaped a great harvest of souls in Judea, preached the faith to the barbarous nations of the East. He was much
devoted to heavenly contemplation, and led an austere life; for he eat no flesh, satisfying nature with herbs, roots, seeds,
and berries, as Clement of Alexandria assures us, Pœdag. lib. ii. chap. 1. St. Ambrose says, that God opened
to him the country of the Persians. Rufinus and Socrates tell us, that he carried the gospel into Ethiopia, meaning probably
the southern or eastern parts of Asia. St. Paulinus informs us, that he ended his course in Parthia; and Venantius Fortunatus
says, by martyrdom.---See Butler's Saints' Lives, September 21st.