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  • Writer's pictureImmersed in Christ

St. Matthew

Thursday, September 21, 2023

by Fr. David M. Knight


View readings for Thursday, 24th Week of Ordinary Time: https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings

Lectionary no. 643 (Eph 4: 1-7, 11-13; Ps 19: 2-3, 4-5; Mt 9: 9-13)


The Responsorial (Psalm 19) says of Matthew and all who spread the Good News to others: “Their message goes out through all the earth.” What is the message?


Imagine yourself sitting “when the distribution of Communion is finished [and] the [presider] and faithful spend some time praying privately.” The Instruction directs: “A period of sacred silence is observed” (General Instruction, nos. 43, 88).


Suppose at that moment you heard someone quote the words of Ephesians 4:1-13, “Maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling.”


Wouldn’t you feel that was being realized all around you?


That is the “message [that] goes out through all the earth.” What you are feeling is the Good News heard, accepted, and bearing its fruit, at least for these few moments, in the “unity and peace” of the Kingdom.


Paul continues: “Each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift.... that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors, and teachers.” But, no matter what our calling or role is in the body, the reason for all gifts is:


to equip the saints for the work ofministry, for building up the body ofChrist, until all of us come to theunity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity,to the measure of the full stature of Christ.


Isn’t that what we are experiencing as taking place and having taken place, during the time we spend together after Communion, just “being one” with Jesus, with God, and with each other?


It was to bring this about—in this particular assembly at this moment, in the human race as a whole, now and forever—that Matthew wrote his Gospel. It was for this that Jesus came.


Communion is a time to experience it. Communion is a foretaste, a preview of the Kingdom, the “wedding banquet of the Lamb,” when in Christ, at the end of time, all things in heaven and on earth will be united.


The Good News is that Jesus came to “bring all things in the heavens and on earth into one.” In perfect unity and love. As stewards of his kingship, we have accepted responsibility for bringing that about (Ephesians 1:10).


This is the mystery behind the Greeting with which we begin the Mass: “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and communion in the Holy Spirit be with you.” What we wish for in the beginning, we experience at the end.


Matthew 9:9-13 is already a preview of the “wedding banquet of the Lamb.” When Matthew invited Jesus to dinner, “many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples.” Matthew is still inviting.


Action: See the Mass as a preview of heaven. Rejoice in all who are there.


Daily Reflection


Perseverance in the faith should be a major concern for every Christian: our own perseverance and that of our children, grandchildren, and even our country. Although no society has ever been truly “Christian,” we have seen countries which were once Christian or even Catholic in population and profession become predominantly atheistic or “unchurched.” God will not let the Church die throughout the world, but it could happen here! How?


We can blame others for what “turns people off” in the Church. But we must always look first to ourselves. The stern warnings to the “angels” of the seven local churches in Revelation, chapter two, could have been addressed to their bishops or pastors or to the local church as a whole, depending on how we interpret “angels.” But the bottom line is that we are all “stewards” of Christ’s kingship, and each one of us is responsible for being and doing what is necessary for his presence in the Church to be visible and attractive.


Paul was insistent that Timothy and Titus, presumably bishops he appointed, should live exemplary lives. 1Timothy 4:12-16 suggests people were “looking down on” Timothy because of his youth. If that hadn’t served, it is safe to bet they would have found another excuse. No one ever really leaves the Church because of what the clergy and bishops do. Our faith is not in the clergy, but in Jesus Christ; and if we give it up, it is Jesus we are giving up on, not on his instruments. If we want to persevere in the faith, we cannot make it depend on what the bishops are, good or bad. Or on the clergy. Or our parents and teachers. We need to seek intimate relationship with Jesus. Read Scripture. Get in touch with the “gift of the Spirit” by a prophetic lifestyle. Minister to others with Christ’s love until we recognize it in ourselves. Trust in God’s power to establish the Kingdom and work for it with hope. Live out our Baptism as Christians, disciples, prophets, priests, and stewards of his kingship. Then we will persevere.


Luke 7:36-50 teaches us not to block anyone’s access to Christ. Jesus was “at table” in a Pharisee’s house, as he is with us during Mass. A woman “known in the town to be a sinner”— pretty bad, then, and pretty notorious—came in. Good so far: we let everybody in for Mass. But then she touched Jesus, washing his feet with her tears, drying them with her hair, “kissing them and perfuming them with oil.” That was like going up for Communion! We may have been as shocked by that as the Pharisee.


We have been trained through centuries of pastoral practice to see Communion as an official judgment by the pastor that one is in “good standing” in the Church—meaning one does not even appear to be in “mortal sin” as people were taught simplistically to perceive it. This is wrong. Communion is the food of sinners, and Jesus showed it by eating with the sinners. He still does.


In the Gospel, who was more ready for Communion? The sinful woman, or the Pharisee?


Action: Have enough love to recognize love. Don’t get in love’s way


Reflections brought to you by the Immersed in Christ Ministry




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