Matthew is the focus in 2011.
The First Sunday of Advent begins the new Church year and a new cycle of Sunday scripture readings. In 2011 the Church reads from Matthew’s gospel, the second gospel written. Matthew writes about AD 85 for Gentiles, seekers like the magi, who believe in Jesus and his new law as a result of the apostles’ preaching his good news to all nations.
Matthew’s gospel follows Mark’s gospel, the first gospel written, and adds more sayings, parables, and stories. If Matthew were alive today, perhaps he would be a librarian because he arranges the gospel like a library with sayings in chapters 5-7, miracles in chapters 8-9, parables in chapter 13, advice to Christians on mutual love in communities (chapter 18), parables of judgment (chapter 25).
The Advent Sunday gospels from Matthew feature the voice of John the Baptist, who promises one is coming who will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire and sends messengers to Jesus to ask, “Are you the one?” Matthew’s Christmas story features Joseph, who keep the law compassionately and accepts the child in Mary’s womb.
In 2011 the Church will read most of one of Matthew’s most distinctive parts, the sermon on the mount (chapters 5-7). Matthew creates a scene in which Jesus sits on a mount and teaches his disciples and a crowd his new law. The scene echoes the setting in which Moses receives the old law on Mt. Sinai. Matthew wasn’t us to see Jesus as the new Moses.
The sermon begins with the beatitudes that challenge us to bless the poor, the sorrowing, and the lowly, to stand with the persecuted, to bring the hungry to our tables, thirst for justice, make peace, and act with mercy. In these sayings Jesus calls us to be salt of the earth and light to the world, to recognize we cannot worship God and carry anger toward our neighbors, to love our enemies, to keep our word, to put God first in our lives. The sermon continues until Lent begins.
Now in late summer, we read that Jesus makes a messianic banquet of five loaves and two fish (Matthew 14:13-21)
How do you share the bounty of your life?