That is what it was like to be a tax collector in the time of Christ: more like a gangster than a dedicated public servant.
Not only were tax collectors generally corrupt, decadent, and ruthless: they were ultimately collecting taxes to fund the very same regime that was cruelly oppressing the people.
Hence the scandal of Christ calling a tax collector (technically, collecting customs duties) to be one of his key disciples.
Needless to say, it proved to be an excellent choice. Levi, also known as Matthew, would not only be a successful Apostle, but would be responsible for the Gospel that stands at the beginning of the New Testament canon: a Gospel that strove eloquently to make clear to his fellow Jews that the Messiah had come in the person of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
St. Matthew is a reminder to us all of how sweet repentance can be.
Today the Church celebrates the Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist.
(adapted from an earlier post)