The Holy Apostle and Evangelist Matthew was one of the Twelve Disciples of Christ. Before his calling as a disciple, he lived as a tax-collector for Rome, a profession looked down upon by the Jews, having the stigma of “public sinner” and “idol-worshipper”. When Jesus called Matthew to follow Him, Christ had dinner at the future evangelist’s house together with other publicans and known sinners. Matthew repented of his sins and repaid fourfold anyone he had cheated and then distributed his remaining possessions to the poor. After the descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, the Evangelist Matthew preached in Palestine, Persia, and all the way to Ethiopia where he was martyred. While preaching in Palestine, he was requested to write one of the earliest eye-witness accounts of Jesus Christ, known as the Gospel of Matthew. Although placed first in the Holy Scriptures, this gospel was written after the Evangelist Mark’s gospel, but this one focused more on the proof that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah foretold by the prophets, and that there would be no other. While preaching the Word of God, the Apostle Matthew found himself being pursued by wild Ethiopians. The saint planted his staff in the ground at the doors of a church he had built, and this staff blossomed into a fruit-bearing tree and its roots gushed forth a stream. Any wild Ethiopian who ate from this fruit and bathed in this stream was immediately turned from their wild ways and became gentle and timid. Out of jealousy, the ruler of Ethiopia, Fulvian, persecuted Matthew and eventually had him burned at the stake. Seeing that the flames did not touch Matthew, but rather he gave his soul up peacefully, the king repented and was baptised with the name Matthew in honour of the apostle.
Ἦχος γ’. Θείας πίστεως.
Θείας ἤκουσας, φωνῆς τοῦ Λόγου, καὶ τῆς πίστεως, τὸ φῶς ἐδέξω, καταλείψας τελωνείου τὸν σύνδεσμον ὅθεν Χριστοῦ τὴν ἀπόρρητον κένωσιν, εὐηγγελίσω Ματθαῖε Ἀπόστολε. Καὶ νῦν πρέσβευε, δοθήναι τοὶς σὲ γεραίρουσι, πταισμάτων ἱλασμὸν καὶ μέγα ἔλεος.
Ἦχος δ’. Ὁ ὑψωθεὶς.
Τοῦ τελωνείου τὸν ζυγὸν ἀποῤῥίψας, δικαιοσύνης τῷ ζυγῷ προσηρμόσθης, καὶ ἀνεδείχθης ἔμπορος πανάριστος, πλοῦτον κομισάμενος, τὴν ἐξ ὕψους σοφίαν· ὅθεν ἀνεκήρυξας, ἀληθείας τὸν λόγον, καὶ τῶν ῥᾳθύμων ἤγειρας ψυχάς, καθυπογράψας, τὴν ὥραν τῆς κρίσεως.
With zeal, you followed Christ the Master, / who in His goodness, appeared on earth to mankind. / Summoning you from the custom house, / He revealed you as a chosen apostle: / the proclaimer of the the Gospel to the whole world! / Therefore, divinely eloquent Matthew, / we honor your precious memory! / Entreat merciful God that He may grant our souls remission of transgressions.
Casting aside the bonds of the custom house for the yoke of justice, / you were revealed as an excellent merchant, rich in wisdom from on high. / You proclaimed the word of truth / and roused the souls of the slothful / by writing of the hour of Judgment.