This Is The Word Of The Lord
Sunday December 29th, 2013
Saint Matthew was a young man when Jesus spoke to him. Before this time e was known as “Levi”. One man having two names was not unusual among the Jews. He was the son of Alpheus (Mark 2:14) and was Galilean. St. Matthew was a tax-gatherer for Herod Antipas and therefore despised by the Pharisees (an ancient Jewish sect that emphasized strict interpretation and observance to the Mosaic Law) who hated all ‘publicans’ (those who collected taxes and tolls in the ancient Roman Empire).
The Bible goes on to say that St. Matthew rose and not only followed Jesus but provided supper for him at his home along with other tax-gatherers. When the Pharisees saw they asked in protest, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (Matthew 9:9-11). Jesus replied, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy and sacrifice.’ I did to come to call the righteous but sinners.” (Matthew 9: 12-13).
Little more is said of St. Matthew’s life in the Gospels. The Apostle Matthew is listed as a disciple and an Apostle who followed Christ in Galilee and was present at the time of his Passion and witness to his Resurrection. He was also present at Christ’s Ascension and again on Pentecost. He is spoken of ten times in the New Testament. One, in Matthew 9:9 when called to follow Jesus and four more times on the list of the Apostles. The seventh time is his spoken of in Luke 6:15 and Mark 3:18. And finally his name is included in Matthew 10:3 and Acts 1:13
Today’s Gospel Reading
Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23 NCV
After they had left, suddenly the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother with you, and escape into Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, because Herod intends to search for the child and do away with him.’
So Joseph got up and, taking the child and his mother with him, left that night for Egypt, where he stayed until Herod was dead. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: I called my son out of Egypt.
After Herod’s death, suddenly the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother with you and go back to the land of Israel, for those who wanted to kill the child are dead.’
So Joseph got up and, taking the child and his mother with him, went back to the land of Israel.
But when he learnt that Archelaus had succeeded his father Herod as ruler of Judea he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the region of Galilee.
There he settled in a town called Nazareth. In this way the words spoken through the prophets were to be fulfilled: He will be called a Nazarene.
What Does Matthew Mean?
Very likely verses 12 directing the departure of the Magi, and 13, Joseph’s dream, happened in the very same night. And the departures occurred in different directions, with the Magi heading east and the family with the Christ Child, heading west. But there is no dispute. The angel specifically tells Joseph why he needs to go to Egypt. He leads him step by step, just as we are led step by step, in the ways of faith by that which we read and the prayers we offer.
It must have been a surprise to those who sought the child in Bethlehem to discover that He was gone. Yet. it was necessary to keep him safe until Herod’s death. Matthew 2:15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
It was Joseph’s prompt obedience to what he was told, that kept the Child safe from harm, just as our obedience reaps us our promised reward in the kingdom of Heaven.
Our Second Reading
Colossians 3:12-17 NIV
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility,gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do,whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Thanks Be To God!
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