He was a tax collector named Levi and lived in Palestine. Tax collectors, or publicans, were one of the most hated professions among the Jews. First, they were working for the Roman Empire that had occupied the land. Second, most publicans profited from their jobs, often taking away from people their last possessions and making them indigent.
Yet, as Christ and his disciples were preaching in Palestine, Matthew invited them to visit his house. They accepted his invitation and had dinner with Matthew. Matthew's friends and acquaintances – many of them publicans – also came to join. Jesus' visit raised the ire of the learned Jews, who saw publicans as traitors and to whom even talking to a publican was disgraceful.
But what they did not understand was that the Lord had “come to call not the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Mt. 9:13). There came a moment when Matthew heard the voice of Jesus Christ, abandoned his estate and followed the Saviour. Repenting his past sins, he repaid fourfold the means that he had wrongfully taken from others, gave away the remainder of his estate and went with the apostles. He witnessed the torments, death and resurrection of Christ. He was present at His Ascension and the descent of the Holy Spirit.
After the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, he preached the Gospel among the Jews. Eight years after the Ascension, he completed his Gospel. The original text, in Aramaic, did not survive, but we have its Greek translation, completed by St James, the first Bishop of Jerusalem.
Eight years later, his ministry of Christ took him to Hierapolis, a city on the River Euphrates in the Middle East. According to one tradition, he departed peacefully there at an old age. According to another, he was martyred on orders from the local Pagan King, who later repented and converted to Christ.
Saint Seraphim’s life was marked by various signs and wonders testifying to his election from very early in life. At the age of seven Prokhor Moshnin (the birth name of the saint) fell from a tall bell tower but God delivered him unharmed.
Saint Anthony the Great, the Father of all monks, is a revered and well-known saint among many Christians, including the Orthodox and Catholics. His extraordinary lifestyle and faith still inspire people even today to become monks.
As the feast day of Saint Vladimir the Great of Kiev is approaching, we are preparing to sing at the all-night vigil and the Divine Liturgy the hymns glorifying his great feat and his apostolic ministry in this part of the world.
As the sages of the East used to say, one would be cursed to live in a time of abrupt change. Saint Sergius of Radonezh lived in one of Russia's most troubled periods and left us some valuable insights that have survived his day.
The holy martyrs, Faith, Hope, Love and their mother Sophia, are revered throughout the world. They lived in Rome in the 2nd century. When Sophia was left a widow, she devoted her life to raising her three daughters, naming them Faith, Hope…
Saint Luke was one of the most modest disciples of Christ. He was not one of the chosen twelve who were constantly beside the Son of God catching His every word and witnessing His blessed deeds.
Saint Spyridon, much like our grandfather in heaven, is praying for us so we are not in need. He responds to our daily concerns and looks kindly upon us, even when we act up and do mischief.