The scripture readings and prayers at Sunday Mass celebrate the birth, life, teachings, suffering, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus in a three year cycle. Each cycle begins on the First Sunday of Advent and ends on the feast we celebrate today, Christ the King. Today then, we end cycle C. During cycle C we have heard the story of Jesus as told from the Gospel of Luke. Next Sunday, the First Sunday of Advent we will begin cycle A and will hear the story of Jesus as told from Matthew’s perspective.
Some things to know about Matthew’s Gospel. He writes primarily to Jewish Christians around AD 80-85. He begins with a long genealogy of Jesus to establish Jesus as an heir to the promise of Abraham and as the Messiah King who has to come from the house of David. At the time Matthew wrote, Jews and Christians alike were in turmoil. The Romans had destroyed the great Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. Christians were under suspicion and attacked by Jews, Romans, and even other Christians who had set themselves up as prophets. In this turbulent time, Matthew assures his audience that even though the world in which they must preach the Good News is a hostile one, with many temptations to turn away from Jesus, those who acknowledge Jesus will inherit the Kingdom of God.
Also, in Matthew’s vision, faithfulness to the Gospel ethic to love God and neighbor is the crucial determinant of whether a Christian will be invited into heaven. Finally, Matthew’s Gospel places emphasis on the concept of Church. It is in this Gospel that Peter is named the rock upon which the Church is built. Matthew also draws out the understanding of Christian discipleship and community as the fuller and deeper living out of the Jewish Law. Jesus himself says, “Do not think I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have not come to abolish but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17)
Year A then is dominated by two themes from Matthew’s account: urgency and uncompromising choice. Matthew begins our cycle A with warnings to stay awake for the coming of God, and ends it with judgment between those who followed a righteous path and those who did not. In between, Matthew exhorts us to watch, to listen, and to follow Jesus. One either follows Christ or does not; one either lives in the reign of God or dies apart from it.
This Thursday we celebrate our national holiday of Thanksgiving. We invite you, your family, friends and guests to start your celebration by coming to the greatest thanksgiving feast ever! We will celebrate the Eucharist on Thanksgiving Day at 9:00AM. Fr. Mark and I hope to see you there!
Have a blessed Thanksgiving Day!