Day 260: Carrying the cross
Matthew 8:1-4 Lepers were obliged under the Old Law to isolate themselves from society due to the contagious nature of the disease (cf. Lv 13:45-46). Jesus, by touching the leper, shows not only his mercy and humility but also his preferential love for the sick and suffering. The miracles worked by Christ manifest in his divine power and the divine authority of his teachings. (CCC 515, 2616)
Ch 8:2 Lord: The Greek kyrios was used both to refer to God and to show respect. (CCC 448)
Ch 8:4 Show yourself to the priest: Christ’s instructions show his profound respect for the Mosaic Law. (CCC 556)
Ch 8:8-9 The centurion-a Roman military commander in charge of one hundred soldiers-understood that a Jew could not enter the home of a Gentile without becoming ritually impure. Therefore, he did not invite Jesus to come into his home to heal his servant. He had faith, however, that Christ’s authority over sickness and death was as certain as his own authority over the soldiers under his command. His words, “Lord, I am not worthy…” are repeated in the Mass before receiving Christ in Holy Communion. (CCC 1836)
Ch 8:10-13 Jesus was impressed with the faith expressed by the centurion, which exceeded the depth of faith he had seen even among the Jews.
Many will come from east and west: This is an early indication that all are called to the Kingdom of Heaven and that Gentiles can be saved if they accept the Gospel. (CCC 543, 2610)
Ch 8:14-15 In response to the gift of healing she had received from Christ, Simon Peter’s mother-in-law immediately began to serve him; this is the appropriate response for all of us who have received Christ’s free gift of mercy. (CCC 1505, 2224)
Ch 8:16-17 Christ’s compassion led him to take upon himself the suffering of the sick and disabled. These healings were signs of the presence of the Kingdom of God and manifested Christ’s victory over sin and death. They also relate to Isaiah 53, which foretells a Suffering Servant who would be “wounded for our transgressions” and “bruised for our iniquities.” (CCC 517, 1505)
Ch 8:18-22 Discipleship means following Christ unconditionally with all of the sacrifice it may entail. Hence, Christ’s response to the one who wanted to bury his father (more precisely, to wait until his father died before he would follow Jesus) is not meant to be dismissive of the proper duty and respect owed to our parents; further, it emphasizes that promptly responding wholeheartedly to follow Christ must take priority over all other concerns. Some are called to imitate more closely the life of Christ through the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience. (CCC 2444)
Ch 8:23-27 This is a powerful image of the Church, symbolized by the boat (the Church is the “barque of Peter”). Although waves and storms threaten to sink the boat, the presence of Christ in the Church assures that nothing can prevail against it. (CCC 845, 2610)
Ch 8:28-34 This chapter of Matthew’s Gospel increasingly reveals the extent of Christ’s power. He has authority over sickness and disease, laws of nature, and even evil spirits. The Gadarenes, by asking Christ to leave, showed fear in the face of such overwhelming power over the Devil and nature itself. (CCC 1503)
Ch 9:1-8 The scribes accused Christ of blasphemy for taking upon himself the power to forgive sins. Only God can forgive sins, so Christ, who is both God and man, had this authority as God. As proof of his divine authority, he then healed the paralytic. Later, he conferred this authority to the Apostles, who in turn, passed it on to their successors. (CCC 1485-1486)
Ch 9:9 Follow me: God calls whom he wills without distinction of persons. Matthew would have been associated with public sinners since he collected taxes on behalf of the Romans.
Rose up and followed him: Matthew left everything and immediately followed Christ as his disciple. God has a unique plan for each individual to achieve holiness and to do the work of evangelization. When we discern our vocation in prayer, we too must follow Christ wholeheartedly and without delay. (CCC 858-860)
Ch 9:10-13 Some were scandalized because Christ associated himself with sinners, but he equated mercy toward sinners with the mercy of God. This caused further scandal because that statement was viewed as an assertion of his own divinity. (CCC 589, 2100)
Ch 9:13 These words of Christ are reflected in one of the options of the Penitential Rite of Mass: “You came to call sinners.” (CCC 1438)
Ch 9:14-17 The practice of fasting often loses its true purpose. Christ commends fasting when it was accompanied by the right internal dispositions. Scripture teaches the value of fasting as a pathway to sanctity and atonement for sin, and there are times to fast and times to celebrate. The Church recognizes this in her Lenten regulations of fasting and in her required fast before receiving the Eucharist. (CCC 1387)
Ch 9:18-26 Two miracles of healing in this section place emphasis upon the vital role of faith. Both Jairus and the woman with the hemorrhage showed unequivocal faith in the healing power of Christ and, therefore, recognition of his divine power. The Lord acts in response to demonstrations of faith. (CCC 2610)
Ch 9:27-34 Son of David: This title has strong Messianic connotations. This outcry from the two blind men forms the basis for the traditional Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!” These words may be prayed as an Act of Contrition in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Their eyes were opened: We can read into this statement to indicate both the physical restoration of the blind men’s sight and the ability to see the light of Christ that allows them to follow him.
See that no one knows it: Curiously, Christ charged the cured men not to tell anyone about their healing by the Messiah, the so-called “Messianic secret.” This is likely because he is not the earthly, political messiah so many were expecting; he primarily came to liberate his people from sin and the Devil. To reveal himself at that time would have hastened his rejection before his mission on earth had been completed. (CCC 439, 2616, 2700)
Ch 9:38 The Kingdom of God is to be announced first to the Jewish people, being the Chosen People of God, although people of all nations are invited (cf. Mt 8:10-12).
The harvest..laborers into his harvest: We should pray fervently for priestly and religious vocations as well as for all people to center their lives on Christ. (CCC 543, 2611)
Ch 10:2 The Twelve, who had formerly been called disciples (followers), were now given the title of Apostles (those who are sent). In fact, this is the only time apostle is found in Matthew. Peter was given dignity of place in the listing of the Twelve. Christ would later make Peter the perpetual source and foundation of unity for bishops and priests as well as for all the faithful; he would serve as the Vicar of Christ to guide the Church on earth as her head. The number of Apostles corresponds to the twelve patriarchs of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, thus indicating the Church of Christ would found is the New Israel. (CCC 551, 880)
Ch 10:5-15 The mission of the Apostles was directed to the Jews first and later to the Gentiles.
You received without paying...deserves his food: The disciples were charged to be attentive to the poor and to “give without pay,” although those who were able should contribute toward the basic needs of those who minister to them. Christ urged his followers to lead a life of detachment from material goods and perfect trust in God, who would provide for their needs. (CCC 2, 543, 2121-2122, 2443)
Ch 10: 8 The power to heal the sick comes from Christ himself. It is carried out through the Sacraments, the health-care apostolate, and intercessory prayer. (CCC 1506, 1509)
Ch 10:12-13 Let your peace come upon it: The language suggests a blessing of the house. Blessings are among the many sacramentals, sacred signs that confer spiritual effects through the prayers of the Church. (CCC 1668-1670)
Ch 10:19-20 Christ promised the assistance of the Holy Spirit, who would empower the disciples to be his witnesses during times of trial. (CCC 166, 728, 764)
Ch 10:22 God desires the salvation of all people. For this reason, each person should have great hope that with the grace of God we will obtain the reward and eternal joy of Heaven. (CCC 161, 1821)
Ch 10:25 In sharing his mission, Christ’s Apostles and disciples would also share in his suffering and rejection.
Beelzebul: A name that means “exalted lord, or lord of the world,” probably from the title of a pagan deity. It was corrupted into “Beelzebub,” meaning the “lord of flies,” which was a name for the Devil in the New Testament.
Ch 10:28 Soul: The spiritual component of the human person. The body and soul together form a unity that defines us as human persons, for it is the spiritual soul that animates the body.
Hell: Elsewhere called Gehenna or “the unquenchable fire,” this is the place or state of eternal damnation for those who reject the love of God. See commentary on Matthew 5:22. (CCC 363-365, 1034, 1056-1057)
Ch 10:29 As in Matthew 6:31-33, Christ urged a childlike trust that God the Father would always provide for our needs. (CCC 305)
Ch 10:32-33 The faithful, when called upon to do so, must witness their faith in Christ without fear if they wish to be true disciples. (CCC 13-14, 1816, 2145)
Ch 10:37 To answer Christ’s call to discipleship, everything must defer to this vocation. Even affection for our family, important as it is, must defer to that calling. As children mature, their perception of their personal call from Christ grows stronger, and they must carefully discern its direction. Parents and other family members may offer guidance but ultimately must accept prayerfully and even encourage their adult children’s discernment of vocations. (CCC 2232)
Ch 10:38 To be a disciple of Christ means to share in his Cross (cf. Mt 10:25). In martyrdom, a disciple becomes fully identified with Christ; in fact, the Greek martur means “witness.” While most Christians are not called to die for the Faith, all must be prepared to bear witness to and suffer for Christ. (CCC 1225, 1506)
Ch 10:40 The ministry of the Apostles, in both their preaching and sacramental ministry, was an extension of Christ’s own ministry. Ordained ministers of the Church exercise their service by teaching, divine worship, and pastoral governance. (CCC 858, 888, 893-894)
(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)
GOSH YOU GUYS!
There a couple of notable things in Matthew Chs 8-10
We have a BUNCH OF MIRACLES!
Jesus is just healing , just NOT ALL OVER THE PLACE
Jesus is spending about 80% of his ministry in a FIVE MILE RADIUS
WHICH IS REMARKABLE!
Around the Sea of Galilee
Capernaum as the home base
Matthew even says he came to his own city that is the base
Obviously Jesus is from Nazareth
He makes Capernaum the home base and does his ministry from there
We saw all of these HEALINGS
Why would Jesus be HEALING SO MUCH?
In the very first Messianic Checkpoint in The Gospel of John, John referred to those healings as SIGNS AND WONDERS (Shall we have a review? Go back and read Day 101: Signs and Wonders in The Bible in a Year Study Guide 😁)
This means they pointed to JESUS’ IDENTITY
We have the story of the paralytic who is brought to his friends by Jesus and Jesus says, “Your sins are forgiven.”
To prove that He has the authority to forgive sins on Earth he says, “Rise, pick up your mat, and walk.”
In that, Jesus is revealing that He is NOT JUST ANOTHER HEALER
HE IS NOT JUST ANOTHER PROPHET
JESUS ACTUALLY IS THE INCARNATION OF GOD HIMSELF
THAT IS SO POWERFUL!!
We see this FULFILLMENT
We have gone through most of the Old Testament
We have covered MOST of the books already
We have gotten A LOT of the story
We have heard ALMOST all of the prophets
And we realize that JESUS IS MORE THAN A PROPHET
Matthew 8:17, “This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah, ‘He took our infirmities and bore our diseases.’”
HE IS THE FULFILLMENT OF THIS PROMISE OF GOD
God says through Isaiah, “Listen, I will come and heal you.”
The Messiah will come with healings in his wings
When we had the Introduction to The Gospel of Matthew
We have the story of the woman with the hemorrhage of 12 years
She wanted to JUST TOUCH the hem of His garment
Because the Messiah would come with HEALING IN HIS WINGS
THIS IS JUST INCREDIBLE!!
It is important to note that Jesus does not just heal people from natural or physical ailments
Jesus also HEALS MENTAL ILLNESS
THIS IS REMARKABLE TO NOTE
Not only because Jesus CAN DO THAT
Also because of the fact that sometimes when we talk about setting someone free from OPPRESSION OR POSSESSION BY A DEMON, sometimes as modern people we may think that was just MENTAL ILLNESS
Scripture makes a VERY DISTINCT POINT of noting that...
JESUS HEALED PHYSICAL ILLNESS
JESUS HEALED MENTAL ILLNESS
JESUS SET PEOPLE FREE FROM DEMONIC OPPRESSION
So there are AT LEAST THREE categories of healing that Jesus offers
One of the things that is revealed is that Jesus is here to ESTABLISH THE KINGDOM OF GOD
The Kingdom of God is not simply uniting people under one banner of faith
The Kingdom of God is not simply uniting people in the Church
IT INVOLVES FIRST DEFEATING THE KINGDOM OF DARKNESS!!
So when Jesus encounters someone who is possessed by the Evil One, the Devil
WE CALL IT POSSESSION FOR A REASON
BECAUSE THE DEVIL POSSESSES THEM
JESUS IS FIGHTING FOR THEM AGAINST THE EVIL ONE
Jesus is saying, “You no longer belong to the kingdom of darkness. I am transferring you to MY KINGDOM.”
THAT IS SO IMPORTANT FOR US TO UNDERSTAND!!
A lot of us think that it is really good that we have been baptized
We have been made sons and daughters of God
It also means that we were TRANSFERRED FROM THE KINGDOM OF DARKNESS
We will hear this later on when we go deeper and deeper into the New Testament
When we were born, someone else had a claim on us
That someone else is the ruler of the world
THE EVIL ONE
When you and I were born, we were born under HIS POSSESSION
This is one of the reasons why the Rite of Baptism often has a Rite of Exorcism
Satan is once again going to be defeated by God’s Grace
Satan is once again going to be defeated by Jesus Christ
Satan is once again going to be defeated by The Holy Spirit
We will be TRANSFERRED from HIS possession, from the claim he has on us, to the KINGDOM OF THE FATHER
TO THE KINGDOM OF GOD HIMSELF
GOD NOW HAS THE CLAIM ON US!!
WHICH IS SO POWERFUL!!
In Matthew Ch 9 we have The Call of Matthew
It is remarkable when we realize that Matthew was inserting this moment in his own life
He was Jewish, but he was an enemy of the Jewish people because he was working for the Romans as a tax collector
Jesus walks up to the tax office and says, “Follow me.”
WHATEVER OUR PAST IS, LORD JESUS COMES INTO OUR PRESENT AND WANTS TO OFFER US A NEW FUTURE!!
THAT IS WHAT HE DOES FOR MATTHEW!!
Matthew 9:9-13 are about the story of how he was himself CALLED TO GO ON MISSION
And then the 12 Apostles are sent on their mission in Matthew Ch 12
Their mission is to basically DO WHAT JESUS DID
THIS IS SO IMPORTANT!!
For those of us who are Christians
For those of us who are FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST
We don’t just follow Christ because we believe in him, although we do
WE ARE CALLED TO DO WHAT JESUS DID ON THIS EARTH!!
We will see that even more as we go forward in The Gospel of Matthew and in The Gospel of Luke
The disciples of Jesus are not just simply called to JUST BELIEVE IN JESUS
They also were not just simply called to FOLLOW JESUS
They were called to DO WHAT JESUS DID IN THIS WORLD
WHICH IS JUST INCREDIBLE!!
Matthew 10:34, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.”
What does Jesus mean by that?
Matthew 10:35, “For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law…”
Families will turn each over
Families will hand each other over
And we realize…
THIS IS THE PRICE
We have seen it throughout history
Families become split because someone is trying to CHOOSE JESUS
And others in the family DO NOT LIKE TRYING TO CHOOSE JESUS
In the first centuries of the Church, it was VERY CLEAR with the persecutions by the Romans
ALL AROUND THE WORLD YOU HAD FATHERS HANDING OVER THEIR CHILDREN
CHILDREN HANDING OVER THEIR PARENTS
BECAUSE THEY BELIEVED IN CHRIST AND IN FOLLOWING HIM
You had this not just in the Early Church
You had this in Japan
You had this in China
Is there a threat of that happening now?
To follow Jesus means we LIVE A CERTAIN WAY
WE BELIEVE A CERTAIN THING ABOUT HUMAN NATURE
WE BELIEVE A CERTAIN THING ABOUT HOW TO LIVE
Could there be DIVISIONS that are becoming more and more pronounced in families now?
It seems like those DIVISIONS are GROWING between Christians and the culture
Because of that, WE HAVE TO PRAY FOR EACH OTHER
Because of that, WE HAVE TO LIFT EACH OTHER UP
Because it is SO HARD when families become DIVIDED over these issues
Families become DIVIDED over certain ways of life
Families become DIVIDED over certain ways of doing things
Families become DIVIDED over certain ways of believing
WE CANNOT ABANDON OUR FAITH!!
WE CANNOT ABANDON THE LORD JESUS!!
BECAUSE HE HAS CALLED US TO BE FAITHFUL!!
BECAUSE HE HAS CALLED US TO BE WITNESSES!!
BECAUSE HE HAS CALLED US TO TAKE UP OUR CROSS!!
Fr. Mike read this in high school and it made SUCH AN IMPRESSION ON HIM
Matthew 10:38-39, “And he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it.”
We know we live in a difficult, dangerous world
We live in a world that WILL KILL US ULTIMATELY
BUT WE DO NOT HAVE FEAR!!
Jesus said, “Have no fear of them.”
Even if everything seems SO CONFUSING
And parents are against children
Children are against parents
Families are divided
People who are friends are now enemies
Jesus says, “But have no fear of them. Because you matter to God.”
Matthew 10:29-31, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s will. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
I LOVE THAT!!
I appreciate the fact that I am more valuable than some birds 😉
But Jesus is saying, “You matter to the Father. So have no fear. Pick up your cross and follow me and have no fear. He who finds his life will lose it and he who loses his life for my sake will find it. SO HAVE NO FEAR.”
SO PRAISE THE LORD!!
THANK YOU SO MUCH!!
MY FRIENDS WE ARE JOURNEYING!!
WE HAVE 105 DAYS LEFT!!
IT ALMOST SEEMS TOO SHORT!!
WE DON’T WANT IT TO END!!
FR. MIKE IS PRAYING FOR YOU
PRAY FOR FR. MIKE
PRAY FOR EACH OTHER
Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise. Thank you, God. Thank you so much for your Word. And thank you for revealing your Will. Thank you for revealing Jesus Christ to us through the Gospels and through the Gospel of Matthew. Thank you for calling Matthew to be one of your disciples, to be one of your Apostles. And we thank you for inspiring him and moving him to write these words that we are reading this very day. Thank you for the fact that what you did, and what you did in his life 2,000 years ago impacts our lives today in this moment. We give you praise and we thank you. Please, Lord, never be far from us. Help us to never wander away from you, but help us to always choose you and to choose your Will, to pick up our cross daily, and to follow after you with our whole heart. Help us to love you with everything we are and everything we have. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”