The Holy Apostle Matthew and me

Back in 1982, I was a Protestant pastor on my way to becoming Orthodox. I had never asked a Saint to pray for me in my entire life. I worked up the courage to do this and took a hike out in the desert. After much prayer, trying to make sure this would be okay with the Lord, I asked the Holy Apostle Matthew to pray for me and my wife as we journeyed toward the Holy Orthodox Faith. From that moment on, Saint Matthew would play an important role in my life and ministry. So much so that my dad took the Holy Apostle Matthew as his Saint when he became Orthodox. The Icon for this devotional was my dad’s Icon. Side note: My wife and I became Orthodox in July of 1983 and continue to thank God for this amazing treasure.

Today, November 16th, the Orthodox Church commemorates this amazing Saint of our Faith. Let’s take a moment to look at his life and how it speaks to us now.

As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So, he arose and followed Him.

(Matthew 5:16)

And there you have it. The Holy Apostle Matthew has just described his own conversion to Christ. There is no doubt a whole lot more to the story, but for Matthew the tax collector, this summed it all up. At some point in time, most of us have committed our life to Christ. We have decided to get serious about our faith and how the Lord would have us live. Your story no doubt has many details as does my own story. Yet for each of us, it could be boiled down to something like this: 

“And Jesus said to me, “Follow me.” So, I got up and followed Him.”

Jesus may have spoken to you through the Holy Scriptures, through another person, or some event in your life. However it happened, the message was the same: “Follow me!”

For the Holy Apostle Matthew that was the beginning of “the race that was marked out for him.” After proclaiming the Gospel in Syria, Media, Persia, Parthia, he finished the race in Ethiopia in a glorious fashion, dying as a martyr for the faith. You can read the rest of his story at:

https://www.oca.org/saints/lives/2007/11/16/103313-apostle-and-evangelist-matthew

Each of us has a “race” marked out for us to run as well. With the Holy Apostle Matthew as our example, may we run our race with perseverance. Here is our encouragement for staying strong to the finish line:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)

The Holy Apostle Matthew is just one of the Saints of God that make up that “great cloud of witnesses” who pray for us and cheer us on. There is much in this world that can hinder and entangle us as we run our race. These Saints are there to help us. Today is a great day to call on your Saint. If you don’t have a Saint yet, pick one out and ask for his or her help. I began with Matthew and now have many Saints who help me make it through each day keeping my eyes fixed on Jesus. May our Lord help us to be faithful all the way to the finish line of our lives, through the prayers of Saint Matthew and all the Saints.

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