This Is The Word Of The Lord
Sunday February 23rd, 2014
Levi (Matthew) was born and raised a Jew by his father Alphaeus at his home in Capernaum. He was trained to collect taxes in the form of personal dues or customs on goods. As such he gained knowledge of languages (particularly Aramaic, Greek and Hebrew), and calculation. Inasmuch as his work was in the service of the Roman government, and in view of the abuses and corruption to which the system led, tax collectors were the object of widespread hatred. His post was at Capernaum where he collected from those crossing the Sea of Galilee, as well as those traveling the Mediterranean-Damascus Road, which ran along the shore.
Jesus called Matthew from his tax booth and feasted at his house, indicating that Matthew was a man of some wealth. Matthew followed Jesus for the rest of his ministry and was with the disciples after the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus.
According to Papias, Matthew made a collection of Jesus’ sayings in Hebrew. He traditionally is held to be the author of the first of the Gospels.
The Feast of St. Matthew is September 21st. The symbols of St. Matthew are the sword, the means of his martyrdom, and the money bag, for his work as a tax collector.
Today’s Gospel Reading
Matthew 5:38-48 NIV
Eye for Eye
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
Love for Enemies
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
What Does Matthew Mean?
This part of what is best known as “The Sermon On The Mount” includes the absolutes which are Christ’s reinterpretation of God’s laws. He is explaining to everyone what true righteousness really is! He speaks of these things as the freedom to not just love others but to serve others, regardless of what our preconceived notions of their character might be…or even if they, too, love and honor God…or not! He teaches that we will receive rewards beyond measure and they are not because of what God says, but instead, because of WHO God is!
You see, up till now, the law taught a somewhat different message. Up till now, it was tradition to love your neighbor and to hate your enemy. But Christ was, instead, urging that we love our neighbor and pray for and forgive those who are not our neighbor. It reminds us that justice for actions rests not in the hand’s of man, but rather, in the hands of the Father! It is He who causes the sun to rise, and the rains to fall, on both the just and the unjust . However, understanding this, Jesus is not teaching man to be passive but is urging all to find another way to confront that which we perceive as being an injustice.
Our Second Reading
1 Corinthians 3:16-23 NIV
Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.
Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”; and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” So then, no more boasting about human leaders! All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.
Thanks Be To God!
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