Day 258: The Kingdom is Here

Matthew 1:1 Matthew, son of Alphaeus, was a Jewish tax collector working for the Romans. The Jews despised people of this profession; nevertheless, our Lord called him to be an Apostle. Tradition acknowledges him as the author of the first Gospel. Some believe it was originally written in Aramaic or Hebrew and afterwards translated into Greek.

Ch 1:1-17 This genealogy is divided into three lists, conforming to the three classical periods of Jewish history. Each list has fourteen generations, a multiple of seven, a sacred number. Three was also considered a perfect number, and fourteen is the numeric value of David’s name, thus pointing to Christ as the perfect descendant of David. Christ is a descendant of Abraham and David through Joseph, his foster father, and through Christ the promises God made to Abraham and David are fulfilled. Four women are mentioned in the genealogy, all with unusual stories, thus preparing for the extraordinary role of Mary at the end of the genealogy. (CCC 437)

Ch 1:16 Jesus means The Lord (YHWH) saves; Christ, like the Hebrew messiah, means anointed one. The Messiah was expected to come as a king from the line of David. (CCC 430, 436-438, 452; CCC glossary)

Ch 1:18 Before they came together: Mary was a virgin at Christ’s conception.

With child of the Holy Spirit: God the Holy Spirit caused the virginal conception of Christ in the womb of Mary, which fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah and affirms the divinity of Christ (cf. Is 7:14, Mt 1:23). God chose Joseph to be the husband of Mary and the custodian of the Holy Family. (CCC 497)

Ch 1:19 Under the Mosaic Law the punishment for adultery was death. Some hold that Joseph suspected Mary of adultery but, being a just man, decided to handle the matter privately. Others hold that Joseph understood the Holy Spirit was at work in her (cf. 1:18) and thus thought that he no longer had a role in her life. (CCC 495-496)

Ch 1:20 An angel of the Lord: The New Testament often records the important role angels play in the life and mission of Christ. Angels are messengers of God who offer Christ worship and protection; often they announce the Good News.

Dream: God spoke to Joseph in dreams (cf. 2:13, 19, 22), just as he had to the patriarch Joseph (cf Gn 37:5-11). (CCC 333, 437, 486, 497)

 Ch 1:21-25 The name Jesus expresses his identity and his mission to “save his people from their sins.” Since his identity is divine, he can forgive sins. Christ revealed God’s gift of mercy to sinners. The name of Jesus is at the very heart of Christian prayer because to address Jesus in prayer is to recognize his divinity, saving power, and omnipresence. (CCC 430, 1507, 1846, 2663-2666, 2812)

Ch 1:23 Throughout salvation history, God prepared his people for the coming of Christ. The Holy Spirit completed these preparations in Mary.

God with us: The Incarnation and Birth of Christ as man heralded the presence of God among his people, a presence that endures (cf. 28:20). (CCC 497, 744)

Ch 1:25 Until: The Greek word translated as until points out what had not happened before this point but implies nothing about future events. The Church confesses the Perpetual Virginity of Mary; she was a virgin before, during, and after Christ’s Birth. (CCC 497-500)

Ch 2:1-12 The identity of Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, was revealed in stages: first to Mary and Joseph, then to shepherds (cf. Lk 2:8-20), and then to the Magi; and later to John the Baptist and then to the disciples. The mission of the Church is to make Christ known to all nations (cf. Mt 28:19). The shepherds represent the poor and ignorant, while the Magi represent pagan believers and intellectuals. All are allied to share in the gift of salvation in Christ’s kingdom by receiving the Good News and recognizing Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, and the king of all nations. (CCC 430, 486, 528, 724)

Ch 2:1 This chapter reveals Christ’s mission as the Davidic king, establishing the Kingdom of Heaven (cf. Mt 4:17). Herod the Great was not a Davidic king but had been appointed king by the Romans. David was anointed king in Jerusalem, and Bethlehem is a small village about six miles south of there (cf. 1 Sm 16); Micah prophesied that the Messiah would be born there (cf. Mi 5:2). (CCC 438)

Ch 2:2 Star: The Magi began their spiritual journey motivated by the revelation of God manifested in nature. (CCC 439)

Ch 2:9 After guiding the Magi to the Christ child, the purpose of the star had ended. Henceforth, the light of Christ himself guides the People of God. (CCC 528)

Ch 2:11 Gold represents Christ’s kingship, frankincense his divinity, and myrrh his humanity, especially his death.

Ch 2:13-21 Flight into Egypt: The Holy Family’s sojourn in Egypt is reminiscent of the Old Testament Exodus from Egypt. Christ is thus associated with Moses and the Israelites (cf. Hos 11:1, Mt 2:15): he frees God’s people from bondage and oppression and leads them from darkness to light.

Killed all the male children: The Church venerates these innocent children as martyrs for Christ in the Feast of the Holy Innocents. (CCC 330, 530)

Ch 3:3 Voice of one crying in the wilderness (cf Is 40:3): John the Baptist was the last and greatest of the prophets because he pointed immediately and directly to the advent of Christ. John’s clothing recalls that of Elijah (cf. 2 Kgs 1:8), and indeed he came in the spirit and power of Elijah (cf. Mal 4:5, Mt 11:14, 17:10-13). (CCC 523, 717-720)

Ch 3:7-12 The wrath to come and the ax is laid to the root: As he preached about the coming Messiah, John the Baptist warned of the Final Judgment and urged repentance. His baptism did not forgive sins; rather, it foreshadowed Christ’s Sacrament of Baptism, which forgives sins and gives new life. (CCC 535, 678)

Ch 3:7 The Pharisees and Sadducees were two dominant groups among first-century Jews. The Sadducees were the priestly and generally wealthier class, and they sought to coexist within the Roman Empire. They denied the resurrection of the dead. The Pharisees were religious teachers who were more numerous than the Sadducees and more popular among most Jews. They accepted the prophetic books and other writings as Scripture and believed in the resurrection of the dead. Another group, the Essenes (often associated with the Dead Sea Scrolls found at Qumran), is not directly mentioned in the New Testament. (CCC 993)

Ch 3:12 A winnowing fork is a shovel-like tool with which wheat is thrown into the air to separate it from chaff (husks). The chaff, being lighter, is blown away as the kernels of wheat fall to the ground. At the end of time, Christ will separate the just from the sinners. (CCC 1040)

Ch 3:13-15 The Baptism of Christ marked the beginning of his public ministry and the acceptance of his mission as the Suffering Servant (cf. Is 42:1). Though sinless, he requested baptism by John the Baptist as sinners did. This baptism anticipated the “baptism” of his Passion and Death (cf. Mk 10:38; Lk 12:50), whereby he identified himself with sinners and took upon himself the sins of the world. It also prefigures the Sacrament of Baptism, which Christ will command his disciples to carry out (cf. Mt 28:19). (CCC 535-536, 608, 1223-1224)

Ch 3:15-16 Fulfill all righteousness: The baptism of Christ by John the Baptist signifies his complete submission to his Father’s will: to die in order to redeem people from sin. 

The heavens were opened: The sin of Adam closed the gates of Heaven (cf. Gn 3:24), but Christ reopened them by his redemptive sacrifice.

Like a dove: The dove is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. The dove’s action over the waters and descending upon Christ is reminiscent of the Holy Spirit over the waters at creation (cf. Gn 1:2); through Baptism a person becomes a new creation in Christ (cf. 2 Cor 5:17).

Alighting on him: The prophet Isaiah foretold that a sign of the Messiah was the Spirit resting upon him (cf. Is 11:2; 42:1; 61:1). (CCC 536, 701, 1224, 1286)

Ch 3:17 Voice from Heaven: Christ’s baptism manifests the Trinity: the voice of the Father, the baptism of the Son, and the descent of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove. At the Transfiguration the Father’s voice was also heard, again affirming Christ is the son of God (cf. Mt 17:5). (CCC 444, 713)

Ch 4:1-11 Christ prayed and fasted for forty days and nights to prepare for his ministry. In Scripture the number forty symbolizes a period of waiting and preparation. Moses spent forty days and nights on the mountain to prepare to receive the Law (cf. Ex 34:28), and Elijah spent forty days in the desert to prepare for his mission (cf. 1 Kgs 19:5-8). The Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years to prepare for the Promised Land (cf. Dt 8:1-6). Unlike the Israelites, who often fell into sin, Christ emerged victorious in anticipation of his victory over sin and death in the Paschal Mystery. This is recalled during Lent and the Easter Triduum, which includes a forty-day period of prayer, fasting, and mortification in preparation for the Resurrection of Christ at Easter. These penitential practices are also the primary supernatural means to extend the Kingdom of God in the world. (CCC 333, 394, 538-540)

Ch 4:1 Tempted by the devil: The Devil tried to divert Christ from his mission, which was to do the will of his Father. Prayer is necessary to conquer the temptations of the Devil (CCC 394, 2489). Unlike Adam, who succumbed to temptation, Christ, the New Adam, overcame temptation (CCC 539). Christ is “like us in all things but sin”; though he experienced temptation, his human will was so perfectly aligned with his Father’s will that he did not sin. (CCC 470, 475, 482, 2849)

Ch 4:2 Fasting is a means of spiritual preparation, discipline, and penance, practiced most notably during the season of Lent. Catholics of the Latin Rite are required to fast on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and for one hour before receiving Holy Communion. Fasting is also recommended as a pious practice at other times as a matter of discretion. (CCC 1387)

Ch 4:4 By bread alone: In the Lord’s Prayer we ask God, “give us this day our daily bread.” We rely upon God for all our needs and recognize that the greatest hunger is for God himself. (CCC 2835)

Ch 4:10 Christ recalled the First and Second Commandments of the Decalogue and the Shema (cf. Dt 6:4, 13). To worship God properly fulfills the virtue of religion in keeping with the First Commandment. 

Satan: “Adversary” or “opponent” in Hebrew and Aramaic. (CCC 2083, 2135) 

Ch 4:12-21 Repent: The Greek uses the word metanoia, which means a profound change of heart accompanied by a turning away from sin. Christ called people to conversion, the response by which, through grace, a person turns away from sin and gains justification.

Kingdom of heaven: This phrase, instead of “Kingdom of God” is a Semitism proper to Matthew. This kingdom describes the eternal happiness to which God calls his people. Christ’s mission was to establish this kingdom. (CCC 1720, 1989)

Ch 4:18 Born at Bethsaida, Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist before he became a follower of Christ, to whom he also brought his brother, Peter. According to tradition, he preached the Gospel in Greece and was crucified in Patras on an X-shaped cross ca. AD 60.

Ch 4:19-21 Follow me...and he called them: Men who have received the vocation to Holy Orders are called personally by Christ. In conferring the Sacraments, bishops and priests act in the Person of Christ the Head (in persona Christi capitis) of his Mystical Body, the Church. By virtue of their Baptism, all Christians are called to a discipleship expressed in holiness and evangelization. (CCC 878-879, 897-902)

Ch 4:22-25 Christ’s healing power was a sign of his divinity and fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophet of the Suffering Servant. (CCC 1503)

Ch 4:25 Decapolis: Gentiles were among the groups coming from these ten Greek cities in Palestine. (CCC 439)

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise. Thank you so much. Thank you for, gosh, introducing us to Jesus through the words of Matthew. Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, you guided Matthew to write down these words that we heard in the first four chapters of Matthew’s Gospel and we just thank you. Help us this day and every day, for the next number of days, to get to know the heart of your Son, Jesus. Help us to watch him. Help us to listen to him. Help us to get close to his heart so that we can know your heart even better. And by knowing your heart, by knowing His heart, our hearts may be conformed to you. We make this prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen.”