Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do… I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” – Matthew 9:12-13

On September 21, we celebrate the feast of this sinner-turned saint, Saint Matthew the Apostle. Jesus shocked the religious teachers of his day in many ways; perhaps one of the most prominent examples was his association with sinners. Chief among these was Matthew, a tax collector. His commitment to follow Christ demonstrates that God has the power to transform the most depraved sinner into a saint for his glory.

A Tax Collector’s Reputation

In ancient times, tax collectors were notorious for being dishonest, greedy individuals. They would often exploit taxpayers by exacting more than was required by the state and pocketing the difference for themselves. This behaviour earned tax collectors a great deal of enmity from the public. Negative public opinion of Matthew may also have been exacerbated by his lineage: as a Galilean son of the tribe of Levi, he was likely viewed as sympathetic to the occupying Romans. 

But Matthew’s example of faith demonstrates that Jesus can redeem any sinner. When Jesus first saw Matthew at his customs post, he said “Follow me.” Matthew’s response was one of immediate obedience – he directly abandoned his position and became one of Jesus’ disciples.

Given the unfavourable status of tax collectors, many in the community were critical when they heard that Jesus dined with Matthew:

While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” He heard this and said, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” – Matthew 9:10-13 

Though little else is known about the life of St. Matthew, we know that he was close to Jesus, becoming an apostle and authoring one of the four gospel accounts. The Gospel according to Matthew was likely written for a Christianized Jewish audience, evidenced by its distinctive continuity with Hebrew tradition and the Old Testament. The account contains nearly one hundred references to and nearly sixty direct quotations from the Old Testament. A clear theme of fulfilment is evident throughout. One such example is in Matthew 1:22-23: he mentions that Jesus’ birth took place to fulfil the prophecy foretold by Isaiah.

Saint Matthew the Apostle serves as an example that Christ came to save all who are lost – the greatest of sinners chief amongst them. “For those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do” (Matthew 9:13).

Pause & consider, if you would like, your own call to Christ

Study the painting and see what God is saying through art

The finest representation I know of the calling of Matthew is Caravaggio’s great painting in the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi, in Rome.

Five men are gathered around a table in the customs house, all elegantly dressed in silks and velvets, with plumes in their hats, earnestly engaged in counting coins. There is a window in the wall, high above the table, but there is no light from that source. The table is in deep shadow – this is a place of “craftiness and hidden things of dishonesty.” 

But the scene is interrupted by a ray of light from some unseen source, and by the appearance of Christ, with a rather unkempt St. Peter, both barefoot and clad in rough garments. The arm of Christ is outstretched, point a finger at Matthew. Two men at the table remain completely engrossed in their counting; two others have turned to look at the intruders, and wear expressions of disdainful incomprehension.

But Matthew, his hand just in that moment drawn back from the coins, is arrested by the luminous countenance of Christ. He alone has discerned “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” That is his conversion and his calling.

Reflect on the words of Dante

You might appropriate to that arrested figure of Matthew what Dante says in his own vision of glory, in the Paradiso:

And so my mind, bedazzled and amazed,

Stood fixed in wonder, motionless, intent,

And still my wonder kindled as I gazed.

That light doth so transform a man’s whole bent

That never to another sight or thought

Would he surrender, with his own consent;

For everything the will has ever sought

Is gathered there, and there is every quest

Made perfect, which apart from it falls short.

(Paradiso, XXXIII.97-105)



We thank you, heavenly Father,

for the witness of your apostle

and evangelist Matthew

to the Gospel of your Son our Saviour;

and we pray that, after his example,

we may with ready wills and hearts

obey the calling of our Lord to follow him;

through Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you

and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


St John the Evangelist, Dumfries, is a parish of the Scottish Episcopal Church also serving Methodist parishioners locally.


You can donate to St John’s by credit or debit card by following these links.


And, as always, if you need us, you can contact  

Annual General Meeting:

The Annual General Meeting will take place on the 1st October. As usual it will be held within the context of the 11am service. There will be a bring and share lunch and the formal meeting will follow. Forms for nominations to the elected vacancies are at the back of the church.  The AGM papers are at the back of the church.  If they run out, please ask the Church Office.    If you prefer to receive them by email, please sign the sheet at the back of the church.  You only need to give your name, assuming we have your up to date email address.  If you will NOT be able to attend the AGM, and would like your apologies noted, there is a sheet to sign for this as well.  If you wish to raise a matter under Any Other Business please let Margaret Morton have the details of that by 12 noon on Friday 29th September. or 01387 262734


If there is sufficient demand, we hope to run a trip (destination not decided on, yet, but suggestions welcome) in mid-October (possibly 14th or 21st, date still to be decided);  we may also run something in mid-November, and there has been a suggestion we might go to the Christmas Market in Hawkshead (near Ambleside/Windermere) on or about 2 December.  Watch this space!

Other Dates for your Diary:

  • Friday, 06/10/2023:                                           Beetle Drive*
  • Friday, 19/01/2024:                                           Burns Supper
  • Thursday,  14/03/2024                                      Pamper Session
  • Saturday, 16/03/2024                                        Men’s Breakfast

* See notice below….


  • A gentle reminder to those who have bought tickets for Cook and Taste India – this will take place in the Hall on Saturday 30th September at 2.30 pm. Come ready to enjoy all the goodies on offer, and watch out for the raffle prizes, too.
  • Watch out for MU Prayer space which is held on the second Thursday of the month, via Zoom, at 12noon and 8pm. You’ve (probably) just missed Peace & Reconciliation this week, but forthcoming sessions include Faith in Action (12 Oct), Gender Justice (9 Nov) and God With Us (14 Dec).  Details on the poster on the lit noticeboard, and also the St J’s website.  The Church Office (pastadmin@stjohnsdumfries.,org) can provide Zoom joining details.  The invitation to join in ‘Prayer Space’ is not just for MU members…(see above)

We are hoping to have different themes in the window bays in the church at Harvest, particularly celebrating the theme of ‘Gifts’.  If you would like to contribute towards the cost of the flowers, provide some kind of gift, or would like to take on decorating a bay yourself, please speak to Carolynne or Janice.

Activities are resuming after the summer break.  Short Mat Bowling will resume, in the Hall, this Tuesday, 26/09/2023;  the Quiz Nights will resume this Friday, 29/09/2023, both at 7.30pm.

On the subject of activities, please support the Beetle Drive here at St J’s Hall on Friday, 06/10/2023.  Doors open 18.30;  eyes (however many you have) down at 19.00. There will be a refreshment break halfway through (no bush tucker involved), and a raffle.  No entry fee, but donations invited.  If you’ve never played before, don’t worry;  all will be explained, and it should be fun.

Dumfries Christian Network tells us…

African Children’s Choir on Monday 25th September at 2.00pm in St Andrew’s Church (picture of poster below…note that the time is incorrectly stated on the poster;  concert starts at 2pm, not 2.30pm)

Quartz says…

  • CLC:  This is the Quartz house group, we meet every second Monday. More info is on the website. [].  On the 05/10/2023, we are planning to meet at Tatyana’s!  Please get in touch if you need directions. 
  • Forest Church:  We will continue to meet at the Crichton on the 3rd Sunday in the Month.  
  • Magazine:  A Quartz review is being written for the Autumn/Winter St Johns Magazine. You can still read the last one in the current magazine which can be downloaded from the St John’s website or picked up in the building.
  • The Blog:  This site is maintained by Wordsmith Crafts CIC. Sometimes the content comes from people who have sent things in. There is the capacity to let other people post blogs directly too, and these will be tagged with their name. This expands the use of the site to encourage discussion, even for those who cannot physically meet in one place often. If you would like to contribute, or recommend someone, please get in touch.
  • An invitation:  Would you like to become more involved in Quartz?   We will be publishing a list of ideas for projects. If you are inspired and would like to contribute an idea have a quick search on the website for similar things to compare it with what Quartz has done in the past – then send your idea in. Once the list is published, we will be trying to find people to help make them happen! Involvement in one activity does not commit you to being involved in any others (unless you want to be). If you are willing to be more involved in the planning and selection of ideas let us know.

Dumfries Academy tell us…We would be extremely grateful if you could share details about our Fairtrade Coffee Morning with your congregation.  It is being held on Saturday, 30th of September, 10am – 12:00 pm at St George’s Church Hall.  All the money raised will help pupils to finance a life changing trip to Kenya in 2024.   Entry costs £5 for adult and children can attend for free!

There will be live musical performances by pupils throughout the morning,  a raffle and a selection of stalls selling home-baking, second-hand books and home-made jewellery.  

It promises to be a good day!

Contemporary Service

The Contemporary Service will be at 6pm on Sunday 21st September followed by refreshments in the hall.


St John's Church

3 days 9 hours ago

Sunday 24th September is our Seventeenth Sunday Service after Pentecost. There is an Eucharistic service at 11:00 am. Do join us- be great to see you! Tonight there is a

St John's Church

1 week 13 hours ago

You are must welcome to join us for our contemporary service this Sunday in St John’s at 6pm. Be great to see you! 👍

St John's Church

1 week 5 days ago

Choral Evensong will take place at St John's Church, Newall Terrace, Dumfries, on Sunday 17th September at 6pm, sung by the Choir of St John's Church, Dumfries, in memory of

St John's Church

3 weeks 4 days ago

Sunday 3rd September is our Fourteenth Sunday Service after Pentecost. There is an Eucharistic service at 11:00 am. Do join us- be great to see you! Tonight there is evensong