|Lucio Massari, Saint Matthew (Rome: Church of St. Mary Immaculate on the Via Veneto)|
O God, who with untold mercy were pleased to choose as an Apostle Saint Matthew, the tax collector, grant that, sustained by his example and intercession, we may merit to hold firm in following you. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
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THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW
Scholars remain undecided about several aspects concerning this longest of the gospels which for centuries held pride of place in the Church's teaching and life.
Mainstream scriptural interpreters place its composition towards the end of the first century (80-90 AD), possibly in a mixed Jewish-Gentile community such as was found at Antioch in Syria.
Matthew's gospel stresses that Jesus is the Son of God who fulfils what the Old Testament foretold of the Messiah (for example, “This was to fulfil what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, ‘Out of Egypt I have called my Son’” [2:15]).
Inviting the follower of Jesus to confess in both word and deed that Jesus is Lord (cf. Matthew 7:21), Matthew depicts Jesus as a prophet powerful in word and deed (4:23; 9:35).
To underline this emphasis on Jesus’ words and deeds, the evangelist intersperses narrative blocks depicting Jesus' healings and miracles with five major speeches.
The Sermon on the Mount constitutes the first of the five great addresses Jesus gives (chapters 5-7). Later, Jesus shares instructions with his apostles as he sends them out on mission (chapter 10), then proclaims to them the parables of the kingdom of heaven and their meaning (chapter 13).
In chapter 18, Jesus describes how life should be lived in the Church, focusing on the need to care for vulnerable “little ones”—easily led astray by bad example—and on the enduring need for forgiveness among His disciples.
The climax to Jesus' instructions are found in His eschatological parables and teaching which culminate in the Last Judgment (chapters 24-25). At the end of the ages, as the glorious Son of Man, Jesus uncovers the criterion for inheriting the Father's kingdom: what was done or not done “for the least of my brethren” (25:40, 45) was given or refused to him. All will be judged on their deeds.
This gospel emphasis on “doing” has often coloured the way people interpret the message of the beatitudes. Some are led to think that only when they have conformed their lives to the program Jesus enunciates will they become pleasing to God. There is a risk here of getting Jesus’ message backwards.
Jesus proclaims Good News from God to the poor in spirit, the mourning, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (right relations between God and humanity and among members of the human family).
Jesus declares that God has chosen to give humans, struggling in their yearnings, the free gift of the kingdom. In this vein, one dynamic equivalence translation rendered the “poor in spirit” of the first beatitude as “those who know their need for God” (J.B. Phillips).
In beginning with God, all is grace, all is gift. Then comes the challenge to every person who would remain a charter member of God's household: Be what you are! Live the life of the kingdom!
The message of the Sermon on the Mount constantly oscillates between the call God makes possible (“You are the light of the world”) and the challenge to live it out (“Let your light shine before others”). Putting all the onus on oneself could lead to frustration or to self-righteousness.
Yet, to do nothing but wait on God would be to fall into the error of spiritual passivity. Life in the kingdom is a partnership begun and sustained by God, but which his children rejoice in making their own. They go so far as to rejoice in suffering willingly for Jesus’ sake (when people “utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account” [5:11]).
Matthew’s is the gospel of the risen, cosmic Christ. The Messiah, son of Abraham, son of David, Son of Man, Son of God, who fulfils all messianic expectations through the cosmic event of his death and resurrection is present in the reading or proclamation of the Gospel (“for where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I there among them” [18:20]).
Jesus is God’s chosen, powerful in word and deed, who calls others to have a consistency between what they say and do. All disciples are moving towards the last judgment but need not fear this occurrence because the Lord who is to come is already with his Church (“remember, I am with you always until the end of the age” [28:20]). [Living God's Word: Reflections on the Sunday Readings for Year A [Toronto: Novalis, 2010, pp. 14-16]
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PLACE OF ENCOUNTER
BETWEEN CLASS AND CHAPEL
All week long, Eglise Sacre-Coeur welcomes many U of O students for courses taught in the large classroom that on Sundays serves to handle congregational overflow or affords meeting space.
The students are able to spend time before class in the hallway leading to the church, offices, etc. Light refreshments are available and a cordial openness is extended to all.
Le PortiK saw light in the 2011-12 academic year and is being repeated this year. Allowing people to sign up for programs linking parish interests and the university's various constituencies was the focus of an "open house" held early in the term.
Mgr Daniel Berniquez and I dropped in for a mid-day hot dog lunch and a chance to socialize.
Herewith some photos, kindness of the pastor Pere Pierre-Olivier Tremblay, o.m.i.