Sunday, June 25, 2017
by David Philippart
So where were we? Now that we have successfully concluded the Easter Season, and celebrated the two solemnities (Holy Trinity Sunday and Body and Blood of Christ Sunday), Father Bill O’Shea last week observed, follow as if the Easter Season doesn’t want to end. What’s our plan for Sunday scriptures?
Since May 7, with one exception (May 28), our Sundays have had us proclaiming and listening to the passages from the Gospel of John, as we do each Easter Season. Today, we dive back into Matthew, our gospel for this year. Some scholars see the Gospel of Matthew, the most Jewish of the gospels, as being built of five major sections, to evoke the five books of Torah. After the introductory chapters revealing Jesus’ birth and baptism, (chapters 1-4) Matthew’s five “books” are the Teaching on Discipleship (chapters 5-7), the Teaching on Mission (chapter 10), the Teaching with Parables (chapter 13), the Teaching on Community (chapter 18) and the Teaching on the End of Time (chapters 23-25). Matthew ends by proclaiming the suffering, dying, and rising of Christ (chapters 26-28). This is probably the oldest, original section of the gospel.
We heard the portions of Matthew having to do with the promised coming of Christ in history and at the end of history back in Advent. Then we heard Matthew’s wonderful infancy narratives during the Season of Christmas with Matthew and Luke being the only two gospels that address Jesus’ birth and childhood. In Lent, we skipped ahead to the parts of Matthew about conversion, temptation, and transfiguration. We heard Matthew’s stirring account of Christ’s passion on Palm Sunday, his wondrous account of Christ’s rising on Easter Sunday, and his version of events on Ascension Sunday, May 28. Having skipped around in this gospel then, what page are we on?
Between Christmas and Lent, in the period of Ordinary Time comprised of seven Sundays, we heard and broke open Matthew, chapters 4 through 7. So as the opening of TV serials would say, “previously [in] the Gospel of Matthew” we heard Jesus call us to discipleship and explain what that entails. Now, we return to a somewhat systematic exploring of Matthew chapters 10 through 24, and the beginning of chapter 25. In others words, from now until October we break open the Teaching on Mission, the Teaching with Parables, the Teaching on Community, and begin the Teaching on the End of Time. Schwew! That is ambitious summer reading! But we can do it! Sunday by Sunday. Together.
Some of the most poignant and beloved parts of Matthew are the parables unique to this gospel: The Weeds among the Wheat (13:24-30–July 23 this year); The Buried Treasure (13:44), The Fine Pearl (13:45-46) and The Cast Net (13:47-48—all on July 30 this year); and The Unforgiving Servant (18:23-25—September 17 this year). The parables turn the world-as-we-know-it-and-think-it-has-to-be upside down and inside out. They give us a new, startling insight into how things can be, and call us to work with Christ to change the world-as-is to the world-that-can-be-if-we-let-it: A world in which all are welcome, loved, fed, clothed, sheltered, cared for, valued. Dream about that relaxing on the beach!
And let’s not miss each other this summer! Whenever you’re in town, do come on Sunday! Remember we have Mass early (7 am) and late (5 pm and 8 pm). See you in church? See you in church! (I’m away this weekend myself, but holding you in prayer as always!)
Matthew at the Movies
The Gospel of Matthew is adapted in two notable film versions. In 1964, Pier Pasolini released Il Vangelo secondo Matteo (The Gospel According to Saint Matthew). In 2015, the Vatican’s newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, named it the best movie about Christ ever made. Roger Ebert loved it, too, putting it on his Great Movies list. Rotten Tomatoes gave it a score of 94 on the Tomatometer. In 1971, Stephen Schwartz and John-Michael Tebelak debuted their adaption of the Gospel of Matthew, Godspell, on Broadway. It was revived on Broadway in 2011. Both versions are available on DVD –treat yourself!
David Philippart serves you as liturgy director. Catch him after Mass, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call him at 312-831-9367.