A Note from our Pastor
Footnotes from Fr. Mark
St. Matthew, our parish patron. What do we know of our parish patron and how is he relevant to us today. According to tradition, Matthew was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ and one of the four Evangelists. Matthew was a 1st century Galilean, probably born in Galilee, the son of Alpheus. As a tax collector he was most likely literate in Aramaic and Greek. He was despised for what was seen as working with the Roman occupation force as a tax collector. Among the early followers and apostles of Jesus, we hear of Matthew in Matthew 9:9 and in Matthew 10:3 as a publican who, while sitting at the “receipt of custom” in Capernaum, was called to follow Jesus. After his call, Matthew invited Jesus to a feast at his house. On seeing this, the Scribes and the Pharisees criticized Jesus for eating with tax collectors and sinners. This prompted Jesus to answer, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Mark 2:17, Luke 5:32).
After the Resurrection it is believed that Matthew died a martyrs death as he preached the message of Jesus Christ to the people of Jerusalem and other countries. That is pretty much what we know of St. Matthew. It isn’t a great deal, but a gospel was by tradition was attributed to him. Matthew was one of the apostles and one who put into reality the preaching and teaching of the message of Jesus Christ.
We hear the gospel parable of new and old wine skins. The people of the time of Jesus Christ were living with the old wine skins of the traditions of Moses. Jesus offered and gave the new wine and new wine skins. A new and different way to live out faith and belief in God. Jesus challenged others to follow him. Matthew did and would go on to preach and teach the message of Jesus Christ. Matthew would take a new wine skin and use the new wine to bring the faith to the Jewish people in and around Jerusalem.
As we gather today to celebrate the Feast of St. Matthew with our parish fest, we as a community are being like Matthew, going forth and bringing that word of Jesus to so many people. Today at our fest we will be seeing and learning about the cultural diversity of our parish. We are many diverse cultures and languages coming together as I am sure many different cultures came to hear Matthew talk about Jesus. They shared food, they listened and they thought about what Matthew said and decided if they would be a new wine skin and they would go forth and tell others about who this Jesus Christ is for them. While we may all not speak the same language, or have the same cultural beliefs, we in our own way are that new wine skin sharing who Jesus is for us and letting others know of Jesus Christ.
I know it can be hard to let go of the old wine skin. Things have been done a certain way for many years, there are new and different people in the church, even the Fathers are different than back in the past. If you look here at our parish, we have Fr. Mike who was born in Poland and came to the United States and our Diocese of Joliet and our parish of St. Matthew to share the message with us and he brings his wine skin and his rich tradition of faith. We have Fr. Raj who has come to us from India. While he may have been in the United States for over 25 years now, he still brings his wine skin and cultural tradition of the faith in India where he was ordained and served for many years as a priest. We have Fr. Richard who comes from a very different background. Having been married and having four children, after his wife passed he has answered the call to priesthood and in his retirement helps us by sharing his wine skin with us. And then there is myself, one who grew up in this parish, went to school here and remembers the rich traditions of the past and I continue to do my best to make this community of St. Matthew to become a place where we are proud to be Catholic and proud to be members of St. Matthew Catholic Church no matter the cultural background or personal practice of the faith. When we say Catholic, we mean universal, so all are welcome, all bring their wine skins, old and new and all of us make the parish what it is today and help to shape the future for tomorrow.
Please enjoy the day here at St. Matthew. Listen to some music, see some dancing different than we are use to, try a new food, talk to someone who you might not know, and just maybe you might become a friend with that person and then the two of you together might do as St. Matthew did and bring another friend to Jesus Christ.
Happy Feast Day,