Concerning the Holy Apostle and Evangelist Matthew
The Epistle reading assigned today is from the First Book of Saint Paul to the Corinthians. This wonderful Epistle sets forth the honor and glory of the Apostles, for they were sent forth not to be served, but to serve.
1 Corinthians 4:9-16
9 For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men. 10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised. 11 Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace; 12 And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: 13 Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day. 14 I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you. 15 For though ye have ten thousand instructers in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. 16 Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.
And why does the Apostle warn us “For though ye have ten thousand instructers in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. 16 Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.”?
There be many today who claim to be apostles. The Saint is teaching us that, by the Lord’s Grace, the true Apostles – i.e. the Apostles of the Twelve, were servants. They suffered for the church. They groaned in the Spirit on account of the struggles of the faithful. They walked in the footsteps of the Saviour and emulated His life. In so doing, they became fulfillers of the Gospel which they proclaimed. To be an instructor, one need know the scriptures, perhaps the traditions, and even the ways of the Fathers. But to be a Father, one must be willing to lay down his life for his flock. It is for this reason that we do not merely refer to our clergy as preachers, but we call our clergy Fathers.