St. Matthew | The Patron Saint of Bankers, Accountants and Financiers

St. Matthew, a tax collector, was working at a collection booth in Capernaum when Jesus came to him and asked, “Follow me.” Due to Matthew’s former occupation before his discipleship, St. Matthew is regarded as the patron saint of bankers, accountants and financiers.

No one I know of actually likes taxes, but animosity towards tax collectors was especially strong in ancient Israel during the first century CE. They were viewed as the undesirables of society. While reading the Gospel, one cannot help but feel that the same ills that plagued the world of commerce in ancient Israel still plague us today.

The commercial enterprise had–and perhaps still has–successfully created both excess and scarcity at the same time. It had done so through the rule of law, rendering the inhumane as legitimate business. In doing so, the enterprise in conjunction with the government had created both wealth and poverty in extremely unequal measures.

The term ‘Patron’ is used in the Catholic faith to describe men and women who are considered to be a defender of a specific group of people or of a country. There are over 2000 patron saints for virtually every cause, city and country, profession as well as special interest.

The Evangelist Matthew and the Angel (1661) by Rembrandt

The Birth of Christ

Who were the mysterious Magi who visited Jesus when he was born? The Magi (Matthew 2:1) were wisemen. They were academics, historians and scientists who were learned in the stars and natural sciences. The Magi had seen ‘His Star in the East’ and believed that the infant Jesus was the foretold one, the prophesied one. The Gospel of Matthew is only one of the four canonical gospels to mention the Magi

“Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:11).

The Magi had come bearing gifts to celebrate the joyous occasion. Jesus was believed to be the prophesied promised one who had come to bring them salvation from their woes.

But even from the moment the holy infant is born, Jesus’ life is in danger from Herod, the King. While it was Herod who called in the Magi and asked them to find the foretold child, the Magi themselves had been warned via a dream not to return to Herod. They instead returned to their own country.

When Herod realised that he had been tricked by the Magi, he became enraged and ordered that all the male children who were born in its vicinity over the last two years be killed. But by then, Joseph and Mary had already fled to Egypt.

Once Herod passed on, an Angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and asked him to go into the land of Israel. By then, Archelaus, Herod’s son, was reigning in Judea. It was then that Joseph received a second message and left for Nazareth.

The Greek word magos is derived from Old Persian maguŝ from the Avestan magâunô. It refers to the religious caste into which the Prophet Zoroaster was born.

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