Friday, May 11, 2018



the gospel of Matthew[1]

The gospel begins with a genealogy of Jesus starting with Abraham, the father of Israel. Jesus is designated as “the son of David, the son of Abraham” In the first of the episodes of the infancy narrative that follow the genealogy, the mystery of Jesus’ person is declared. He is conceived of a virgin by the power of the Spirit of God the gospel shows that he was the one to whom the prophecies of Israel were pointing, he shall be named Emmanuel, for in him God is with us. The announcement of the birth of this newborn king of the Jews greatly troubles not only King Herod but all Jerusalem, yet the Gentile magi are overjoyed to find him and offer him their homage and their gifts. Thus his ultimate rejection by the mass of his own people and his acceptance by the Gentile nations is foreshadowed. He must be taken to Egypt to escape the murderous plan of Herod. By his sojourn there and his subsequent return after the kings’ death he relives the Exodus experience of Israel. The words of the Lord spoken through the prophet Hosea, “Out of Egypt I called my son,” are fulfilled in him; if Israel was Gods son, Jesus is so in a way far surpassing the dignity of that nation, as his marvelous birth and the unfolding of his story show. Back in the land of Israel, he must be taken to Nazareth in Galilee because of the danger to his life in Judea, where Herod’s son Archelaus is now ruling. The sufferings of Jesus in the infancy narrative anticipate those of his passion, and if his life is spared in spite of the dangers, it is because his destiny is finally to give it on the cross as “a ransom for many. Thus the word of the angel will be fulfilled, “…he will save his people from their sins.
Matthew begins his account of the ministry of Jesus, introducing it by the preaching of John the Baptist, the baptism of Jesus that culminates in God’s proclaiming him his “beloved Son”, and the temptation in which he proves his true sonship by his victory over the devil’s attempt to deflect him from the way of obedience to the Father. The central message of Jesus’ preaching is the coming of the kingdom of heaven and the need for repentance, a complete change of heart and conduct, on the part of those who are to receive this great gift of God. Galilee is the setting for most of his ministry; he leaves there for Judea only in and his ministry in Jerusalem, the goal of his journey, is limited to a few days. There are five great discourses of Jesus, each concluding with the formula “When Jesus finished these words” or one closely similar. These are an important structure of the gospel. The discourses are, the “Sermon on the Mount, the missionary discourse (Mt 10:542), the parable discourse (Mt 13:352), the “church order” discourse (Mt 18:335), and the eschatological discourse (Mt 24:425:46).

·         In the “Sermon on the Mount” the theme of righteousness is prominent, and even at this early stage of the ministry the note of opposition is struck between Jesus and the Pharisees, who are designated as “the hypocrites. The righteousness of his disciples must surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees; otherwise, in spite of their alleged following of Jesus, they will not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Righteousness means doing the will of the heavenly Father, and his will is proclaimed in a manner that is startling to all who have identified it with the Law of Moses. Jesus’ claimed that he has come not to abolish but to fulfill the law. What is meant by fulfillment of the law is not the demand to keep it exactly as it stood before the coming of Jesus, but rather his bringing the law to be a lasting expression of the will of God, and in that fulfillment there is much that will pass away. Should this appear contradictory to his saying that “until heaven and earth pass away” not even the smallest part of the law will pass, that time of fulfillment is not the dissolution of the universe but the coming of the new age, which will occur with Jesus’ death and resurrection. While righteousness in the new age will continue to mean conduct that is in accordance with the law, it will be conduct in accordance with the law as expounded and interpreted by Jesus, “…all that I have commanded you”). Though Jesus speaks harshly about the Pharisees in the Sermon, his judgment is not solely a condemnation of them. The Pharisees are portrayed as a negative example for his disciples, and his condemnation of those who claim to belong to him while disobeying his word is no less severe. The Sermon on the Mount is composed principally of accounts of those merciful deeds of Jesus, but it is far from being simply a collection of stories about miraculous cures.

·         The nature of the community that Jesus will establish is shown; it will always be under the protection of him whose power can deal with all dangers, but it is only for those who are prepared to follow him at whatever cost, not only believing Israelites but Gentiles who have come to faith in him. The disciples begin to have some insight, however imperfect, into the mystery of Jesus’ person. They wonder about him whom “the winds and the sea obey, and they witness his bold declaration of the forgiveness of the paralytic’s sins. That episode of the narrative moves on two levels. When the crowd sees the cure that testifies to the authority of Jesus, the Son of Man, to forgive sins, they glorify God “who had given such authority to human beings. The forgiveness of sins is now not the prerogative of Jesus alone but of “human beings,” that is, of the disciples who constitute the community of Jesus, the church. The end of the section prepares for the discourse on the church’s mission. Jesus is moved to pity at the sight of the crowds who are like sheep without a shepherd, and he sends out the twelve disciples to make the proclamation with which his own ministry began, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand, and to drive out demons and cure the sick as he has done. Their mission is limited to Israel as Jesus’ own was, yet in Mt 15:16 that perspective broadens and the discourse begins to speak of the mission that the disciples will have after the resurrection and of the severe persecution that will attend it.  Matthew deals with the growing opposition to Jesus and Hostility toward him, but it becomes more intense. The rejection of Jesus comes, as before, from Pharisees, who take “counsel against him to put him to death” and repeat their earlier accusation that he drives out demons because he is in league with demonic power. But they are not alone in their rejection. Jesus complains of the lack of faith of “this generation” of Israelites and reproaches the towns “where most of his mighty deeds had been done” for not heeding his call to repentance. This dark picture is relieved by Jesus’ praise of the Father who has enabled “the childlike” to accept him, but on the whole the story is one of opposition to his word and blindness to the meaning of his deeds. The whole section ends with his declaring that not even the most intimate blood relationship with him counts for anything; his only true relatives are those who do the will of his heavenly Father. The narrative of rejection leads up to the parables.

·         The reason given for Jesus’ speaking to the crowds in parables is that they have hardened themselves against his clear teaching, unlike the disciples to whom knowledge of “the mysteries of the kingdom has been granted”and he dismisses the crowds and continues the discourse to his disciples alone, who claim, at the end, to have understood all that he has said. But, lest the impression be given that the church of Jesus is made up only of true disciples, the explanation of the parable of the weeds among the wheat, as well as the parable of the net thrown into the sea “which collects fish of every kind, shows that it is composed of both the righteous and the wicked, and that separation between the two will be made only at the time of the final judgment. Jesus is shown preparing for the establishment of his church with its teaching authority that will supplant the blind guidance of the Pharisees, whose teaching, curiously said to be that of the Sadducees also, is repudiated by Jesus as the norm for his disciples.

·         The church of Jesus will be built on Peter, who will be given authority to bind and loose on earth, an authority whose exercise will be confirmed in heaven. The metaphor of binding and loosing has a variety of meanings, among them that of giving authoritative teaching. This promise is made to Peter directly after he has confessed Jesus to be the Messiah, the Son of the living God, a confession that he has made as the result of revelation given to him by the heavenly Father; Matthew’s ecclesiology is based on his high Christology. Directly after that confession Jesus begins to instruct his disciples about how he must go the way of suffering and death. Peter, who has been praised for his confession, protests against this and receives from Jesus the sharpest of rebukes for attempting to deflect Jesus from his God-appointed destiny. The future rock upon whom the church will be built is still a man of “little faith. Both he and the other disciples must know not only that Jesus will have to suffer and die but that they too will have to follow him on the way of the cross if they are truly to be his disciples. They must care for one another and guard each other’s faith in Jesus, to seeking out those who have wandered from the fold, and to repeated forgiving of their fellow disciples who have offended them. But there is also the obligation to correct the sinful fellow Christian and, should one refuse to be corrected, separation from the community is demanded. Jesus and his disciples depart from Galilee for Jerusalem. In the course of their journey Jesus for the third time predicts the passion that awaits him at Jerusalem and also his resurrection. At his entrance into the city he is hailed as the Son of David by the crowds accompanying him. He cleanses the temple, and in the few days of his Jerusalem ministry he engages in a series of controversies with the Jewish religious leaders, meanwhile speaking parables against them, against all those Israelites who have rejected God’s invitation to the messianic banquet, and against all, Jew and Gentile, who have accepted but have shown themselves unworthy of it. Once again, the perspective of the evangelist includes not only the time of Jesus’ ministry but that of the preaching of the gospel after his resurrection.

·         The narrative culminates in Jesus’ denunciation of the scribes and Pharisees, reflecting not only his own opposition to them but that of Matthew’s church, and in Jesus’ lament over Jerusalem. The last of the great structural discourses of the gospel, Jesus predicts the destruction of the temple and his own final coming. The time of the latter is unknown, and the disciples are exhorted in various parables to live in readiness for it, a readiness that entails faithful attention to the duties of the interim period. The coming of Jesus will bring with it the great judgment by which the everlasting destiny of all will be determined. The story of Jesus’ passion and resurrection, the climax of the gospel, throws light on all that has preceded. In Matthew “righteousness” means both the faithful response to the will of God demanded of all to whom that will is announced and also the saving activity of God for his people. In Jesus’ absolute faithfulness to the Father’s will that he drink the cup of suffering, the incomparable model for Christian obedience is given; in his death “for the forgiveness of sins”, the saving power of God is manifested as never before. Matthew’s portrayal of Jesus in his passion combines both the majestic serenity of the obedient Son who goes his destined way in fulfillment of the scriptures, confident of his ultimate vindication by God, and the depths of fear and abandonment that he feels in face of death. These two aspects are expressed by an Old Testament theme that occurs often in the narrative, i.e., the portrait of the suffering Righteous One who complains to God in his misery, but is certain of eventual deliverance from his terrible ordeal. The passion-resurrection of God’s Son means nothing less than the turn of the ages, a new stage of history, the coming of the Son of Man in his kingdom. That is the sense of the apocalyptic signs that accompany Jesus’ death and resurrection. Although the old age continues, as it will until the manifestation of Jesus’ triumph at his second coming, the final age has now begun. This is known only to those who have seen the Risen One and to those, both Jews and Gentiles, who have believed in their announcement of Jesus’ triumph and have themselves become his disciples. To them he is constantly, though invisibly, present, verifying the name Emmanuel, “God is with us”.



MAY 11 Ascension Friday

Matthew, Chapter 1, verse 19-20:
19 Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. 20 Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her.

Even righteous people become afraid at times but Mark Shea a catholic writer points out that Joseph being a devote Jew may have had Holy fear as the basis of his being afraid.

”Modernity assumes it was because he thought her guilty of adultery, but the typical view in antiquity understood the text to mean he was afraid of her sanctity — as a pious Jew would be afraid to touch the Ark of the Covenant. After all, think of what Mary told him about the angel's words: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the Child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God."[2]

We should follow the example of Joseph and be not afraid to take Mary into our home!

I know one small way I have taken Mary in my home is to silently say a Hail Mary when I wash my hands to eat-praying,

Mary help me not to wash your son’s blood from my hands as Pilot did. Help me to have no innocent blood on my hands. Let me not wash off responsibility for others.

Novena to the Holy Spirit[3]

The novena in honor of the Holy Spirit is the oldest of all novenas since it was first made at the direction of Our Lord Himself when He sent His apostles back to Jerusalem to await the coming of the Holy Spirit on the first Pentecost. It is still the only novena officially prescribed by the Church. Addressed to the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, it is a powerful plea for the light and strength and love so sorely needed by every Christian.

On the day of Ascension our Lord went to the Father. The disciples were heartbroken but He promised them that He would send the Holy Spirit (Novena to the Holy Spirit) saying it is better for us that He leave us so we may receive power from on high. The first gift of the Holy Spirit is the gift of Holy fear; to respond to God’s love as a son or daughter rather than a servant.

ACT OF CONSECRATION TO THE HOLY SPIRIT

On my knees before the great multitude of heavenly witnesses, I offer myself, soul and body to You, Eternal Spirit of God. I adore the brightness of Your purity, the unerring keenness of Your justice, and the might of Your love. You are the Strength and Light of my soul. In You I live and move and am. I desire never to grieve You by unfaithfulness to grace and I pray with all my heart to be kept from the smallest sin against You. Mercifully guard my every thought and grant that I may always watch for Your light, and listen to Your voice, and follow Your gracious inspirations. I cling to You and give myself to You and ask You, by Your compassion to watch over me in my weakness. Holding the pierced Feet of Jesus and looking at His Five Wounds, and trusting in His Precious Blood and adoring His opened Side and stricken Heart, I implore You, Adorable Spirit, Helper of my infirmity, to keep me in Your grace that I may never sin against You. Give me grace, O Holy Spirit, Spirit of the Father and the Son to say to You always and everywhere, "Speak Lord for Your servant heareth." Amen.

To be recited daily during the Novena

Prayer for The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit

O Lord Jesus Christ, Who, before ascending into heaven, did promise to send the Holy Spirit to finish Your work in the souls of Your Apostles and Disciples, deign to grant the same Holy Spirit to me that He may perfect in my soul, the work of Your grace and Your love. Grant me the Spirit of Wisdom that I may despise the perishable things of this world and aspire only after the things that are eternal, the Spirit of Understanding to enlighten my mind with the light of Your divine truth, the Spirit of Counsel that I may ever choose the surest way of pleasing God and gaining heaven, the Spirit of Fortitude that I may bear my cross with You and that I may overcome with courage all the obstacles that oppose my salvation, the Spirit of Knowledge that I may know God and know myself and grow perfect in the science of the Saints, the Spirit of Piety that I may find the service of God sweet and amiable, and the Spirit of Fear that I may be filled with a loving reverence towards God and may dread in any way to displease Him. Mark me, dear Lord, with the sign of Your true disciples and animate me in all things with Your Spirit. Amen.

(To be recited daily during the Novena)

HOLY SPIRIT NOVEANA-FIRST DAY[4]

 (Friday, 6th Week of Easter)

Holy Spirit! Lord of Light! From Your clear celestial height, Your pure beaming radiance give!

The Holy Spirit

Only one thing is important -- eternal salvation. Only one thing, therefore, is to be feared--sin? Sin is the result of ignorance, weakness, and indifference The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Light, of Strength, and of Love. With His sevenfold gifts He enlightens the mind, strengthens the will, and inflames the heart with love of God. To ensure our salvation we ought to invoke the Divine Spirit daily, for "The Spirit helpeth our infirmity. We know not what we should pray for as we ought. But the Spirit Himself asketh for us."

Prayer
Almighty and eternal God, Who hast vouchsafed to regenerate us by water and the Holy Spirit, and hast given us forgiveness all sins, vouchsafe to send forth from heaven upon us your sevenfold Spirit, the Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding, the Spirit of Counsel and fortitude, the Spirit of Knowledge and Piety, and fill us with the Spirit of Holy Fear. Amen.

Our Father and Hail Mary ONCE. 

Glory be to the Father SEVEN TIMES. 

Daily Devotions

·         Drops of Christ’s Blood
·         Please pray for me and this ministry

Today is Twilight Zone Day


Comments


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    John

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