Day 264: Preaching without practice
Matthew 22:1-14 The Parable of the Wedding Feast is a wonderful illustration of the blissful joy experienced by someone fully united to Christ. The image of a wedding feast conjures up thoughts of joy and festivity. Christ, the Son, is the Bridegroom betrothed to his Church. The Kingdom of Heaven is sometimes described as the marriage supper of the Lamb (cf. Rev 19:9). The parable relates how all are now invited to the wedding feast because the original guests, the people of Israel, declined to come. The wedding guest who was not properly attired represents those who perhaps have not given a total “yes” to a vocation to holiness and, therefore, are not prepared to participate in the wedding feast. (CCC 546)
Ch 22:15-22 Christ again was asked a question by those intending to entrap him but was able to turn it around on his critics. The faithful are bound to submit to civil authority, who exercise their authority in secular matters for the common good. However, should the demands of civil authority run contrary to the moral law, human dignity, or a properly formed conscience, the faithful also have an obligation to refuse obedience to any law that makes them complicit in sin. (CCC 2242, 2419-2423)
Ch 22:23-33 The Sadducees did not believe that the dead would rise again, so they tried to ensnare Christ with a contrived question. He rebuked their position, indicating instead that in Heaven our relationship with God and with the reset of the blessed will transcend human relationships such as marriage. (CCC 575, 581)
Ch 22:34-40 When the Pharisees asked Christ which was the Greatest Commandment (there were many precepts of the Mosaic Law), he did not name any of the Ten Commandments but the Great Commandments of Love, which presuppose fidelity to the Ten Commandments. Once again, he stressed the importance of external acts, reflecting observance of the Law is accompanied and animated by the proper disposition of the heart-love of God and love of neighbor. The Commandments find their true meaning in light of the two Great Commandments of Love. (CCC 1824, 2055, 2083)
Ch 22:41-46 With the Pharisees, Jesus was rather guarded in references to himself as the Lord or Messiah, which is in contrast to the more explicit manner in which he discussed his identity with his Apostles. Here, he presented them with a riddle taken directly from Scripture: If the Messiah is the son of David, then how can David call him Lord? The Pharisees were rendered speechless because the solution suggests that the Messiah is both the son of David and the divine Son of God-and therefore is evidence for the doctrine of the two natures, both divine and human, in the one divine Person of Christ, who is true God and true man. (CCC 422-423, 439, 447)
Ch 23:1-36 Christ’s remarks to the scribes and Pharisees relate to a legalistic approach to the Law to the detriment of humility. He used the word hypocrites to describe those who were caught up in the external fulfillment of the Law without seeing the deeper, more important spirit behind the Law.
Ch 23:2 Moses’ seat: This refers to the teaching authority of the scribes and Pharisees. (CCC 85)
Ch 23:5 Phylacteries: In Aramaic tefillin, these are small boxes containing verses of Scripture written on scrolls that are worn on the forehead and left arm during prayer (cf. Dt 6:4).
Fringes: This refers to the tassels Jews were to have on the corners of their garments (cf. Nm 15:38-39; Dt 22:12). These were used to make God’s Commandments ever present among the Jewish people. (CCC 2057-2061)
Ch 23:9 Call no man your father: Christ was telling his disciples not to seek honorific titles, nor to put other human authorities above God the Father. Terms like “rabbi” and “father” were often given to esteemed teachers as signs of respect. God is the perfect Father and the omniscient teacher to whom none other bears comparison. The verse does not forbid addressing natural or foster fathers, or for that matter ordained priests, by the title “father.” In fact, the Apostles referred to themselves as spiritual fathers and Christians in the communities they founded as their children (cf. 1 Cor 4:14-15, 1 Pt 5:13, Gal 4:19). (CCC 2367)
Ch 23:12 Whoever exalts himself...be exalted: The call to humble oneself is akin to the earlier exhortation of Christ to become “like children” in order to enter Heaven (Mt 18:3-4). (CCC 526)
Ch 23:13 Other ancient authorities add, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive the greater condemnation,” as Verse 14
Ch 23:18-22 The altar is an image of the presence of Christ, so to swear by the altar is to swear by Christ-a sin against the Commandments. Similar disrespect for saints, holy objects, and sacramentals is also sinful. The superstitious use of prayers, novenas, and holy objects becomes a form of idolatry if the person seeks to achieve a desired result by a mere action without the proper interior disposition. (CCC 586, 1383, 2111)
Ch 23:24 Both gnats and camels were unclean animals, which Jews were forbidden to eat. (CCC 582)
Ch 23:37-39 Even as he grieved in remembering the prophets who were martyred in Jerusalem, Christ still ardently desired to draw all of God’s people to himself and laments his own rejection.
You will not see me again: When Jesus comes again, he will be recognized by all as Messiah. (CCC 558, 674)
Ch 24:1-3 Christ predicted the destruction of the Temple, which would occur nearly four decades later during the Roman suppression of a Jewish rebellion (AD 70). He went on to describe vividly the tribulation to come. (CCC 585)
Ch 24:3-14 The disciples’ question asked both when the destruction of the Temple would take place and when Christ would come again. The Temple was so central to Jewish existence and their identity as the People of God that to imagine its destruction would seem like the end of the world. Christ carefully separated the destruction of the Temple from his Second Coming, with persecution accompanying the Temple’s destruction. The Church will endure hardship, trials, and betrayals that will cause many to renounce their faith before Christ returns.
He who endures to the end will be saved: Fidelity in the face of oppression, even torture and martyrdom, is necessary for the faithful to attain salvation.
As a testimony: Faith is a personal act with communal dimensions that demands a relationship with others. One who believes in Christ is called to share the faith with others. (CCC 161, 166, 672, 675)
Ch 24:15-18 The persecution will be severe. There will be false prophets and many will claim to be the Messiah.
Desolating sacrilege: Several times, the Temple had been seized by pagan conquerors who plundered its sacred objects and installed pagan idols for worship. This would happen again in the first century when the Romans would desecrate and then utterly destroy the Temple.
For as the lightning...far as the west: Christ will not return in a hidden manner but in a dramatic and obvious way for all to see. (CCC 676-677)
Ch 24:29-35 All the tribes of the earth will mourn: Seeing Christ in his glory, all nations will realize how unworthy they are of his mercy.
This generation will not pass away: Christ may have been referring to his Resurrection, which anticipates his glorious Second Coming. (CCC 333, 678)
Ch 24:36-51 Although we cannot know the date and time of Christ’s Second Coming, it could take place in any instant. Therefore, we must be vigilant and ready to meet him at any time.
But the Father only: Christ, of course, knows what the Father knows but it was not part of his plan of salvation to reveal this information. (CCC 673)
(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)
Do you realize that we are 101 days away from the conclusion of The Bible in a Year?
I love the fact that we just get to LISTEN and SOAK IN ONE GOSPEL AT A TIME
Matthew is one of my TOP FOUR favorite Gospels 😉
It’s just SO GOOD to be able to SEE JESUS
It’s just SO GOOD to be able to HEAR JESUS SPEAK
It’s just SO GOOD to be able to WATCH HOW JESUS LIVES
The context of these last chapters of Matthew’s Gospel is that Jesus has now come into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday where he is riding the donkey (from Shrek 🤪)
Hosanna to the Son of David!
BIG BIG DAY!!
We heard that yesterday
All this stuff happens in Jerusalem
Jesus is being interrogated by scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees in Jerusalem
We hear a number of parables
The Parable of the Marriage Feast
The king sends out invitations for people to come to the marriage feast of his son
Everything is ready, yet they don’t want to come
THEY REFUSE TO COME!!
Clearly, these are the people who refused to listen to the preaching of John
They refused to listen to the preaching of Jesus who is saying, “The Kingdom is here!”
These are people like the Pharisees and Sadducees
So what do they do?
They bring in EVERYBODY!!
THE GOOD AND THE BAD!!
There is a really ENIGMATIC scene at the end of the parable
Matthew 22:11-12, “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment; and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless.”
The man gets kicked out
We need to ask the question, “Yeah, you brought everyone in. You brought in the good and the bad. You brought them in from the highways and by-ways, and offshoots of the roads. Why would you expect this person to have a wedding garment on?”
THE WEDDING GARMENT IS A SYMBOL!!
The Great Adventure Bible says, “[Matthew] 22:11: The wedding garment represents the dispositions necessary for admission to the kingdom.”
Fr. Mike has heard other Church Fathers say that the wedding garment is a SYMBOL OF BAPTISM
Because baptism indicates that you are clothed in that garment
By baptism the robes have been washed in the BLOOD OF THE LAMB
JUST BECAUSE I FIND MYSELF IN THE CHURCH DOES NOT MEAN I AM A CHRISTIAN
Fr. Mike heard this saying: “Being in a church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than being in a garage makes you a car.”
Ok that’s good
Here’s a man WITHOUT A WEDDING GARMENT
He does not have the DISPOSITION FOR THE KINGDOM
He finds himself INSIDE
He has to ask the question, “Am I TRULY INSIDE?”
Do you know what I mean (jellybean)?
Jesus goes on to teach some more
You might not know about Matthew Ch 22 The Question about Man’s Resurrection
The Sadducees were a branch of Judaism that only accepted the FIRST FIVE BOOKS OF MOSES aka THE FIRST FIVE BOOKS OF THE TORAH
So they did not believe in the RESURRECTION
They did not believe in ANGELS AND SOME OTHER THINGS
They were DISTINCTIVE in that way
Here they come to Jesus and they question Him about the Resurrection
They give him a story about this man who marries a woman and then he dies and all six of his brothers end up marrying this woman
They read about the Law of Moses that the brothers are to raise up children for their brother who had passed away
So they ask the question, “Ok that’s what’s going down. So whose wife is she in the Resurrection?”
Jesus answers in TWO WAYS
The first way is that He indicates that in Heaven, THINGS ARE DIFFERENT
IN HEAVEN THERE IS NO MARRIAGE
IN HEAVEN THERE IS NO GIVING IN MARRIAGE
That DOES NOT MEAN that you won’t have a particular relationship with your spouse when you get to Heaven
I imagine that you WOULD
Just like you would have a particular relationship with people in Heaven that you had with people on Earth
This is fascinating because Jesus quotes from The Book of Exodus, which the Sadducees accept
Matthew 22:31-32, “And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.”
IT IS SO BRILLIANT THAT JESUS QUOTES FROM ONE OF THOSE FIRST FIVE BOOKS WHEN HE ANSWERS THE SADDUCEES!!
HE QUOTES FOR THEM FROM A BOOK THAT THEY ACCEPT IN ORDER TO TEACH THEM SOMETHING THAT THEY REFUSE TO ACCEPT!!
THIS IS INCREDIBLE!!
The second way Jesus answers this is In Matthew Ch 23 when Jesus Denounces the Hypocrisy of the Scribes and Pharisees
Matthew 23:1-3, “Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice.’”
THAT IS REALLY IMPORTANT FOR US!!
The reality is that the people have been given AUTHORITY in the Church
THEY DON’T ALWAYS LIVE THAT WAY!!
Jesus is saying, “They are sitting on Moses’ seat. They have been given AUTHORITY to be teachers. So LISTEN to their TEACHINGS. But some of their BEHAVIORS are NOT HONORABLE. Some of their BEHAVIORS are NOT TO BE IMITATED. SO DON’T LIVE LIKE THEM.”
We can see that now
In the New Covenant, Jesus established a CHURCH with a CERTAIN HIERARCHY
Jesus is saying, “Here is the NEW SEAT OF MOSES. Here is the Chair of Peter. Yup, we honor that. We recognize that as a position of TEACHING. We recognize that as a position of AUTHORITY. We listen to their teaching. But if they are not living HONORABLE, HOLY LIVES, then we DO NOT LIVE AS THEY LIVE AS THEY LIVE OR AS I LIVE.”
THIS IS SO IMPORTANT!!
Jesus also goes on to SPEAK AGAINST THOSE SCRIBES AND PHARISEES
IT IS REALLY IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND MATTHEW CH 23
A lot of times, we have this IMAGE OF JESUS as being MILQUETOAST
MILQUETOAST mean TIMID or FEEBLE
Kind of like a BEATNIK or a HIPPIE (is “hippie” the singular of “hippies” or is it “hippy”?🤔)
“Hey guys, let’s just all get along.”
Of course, Jesus is the PRINCE OF PEACE
Of course, Jesus is the THRONE OF MERCY
JESUS IS MERCY ITSELF
AT THE SAME TIME…
Jesus has these REALLY HARSH WORDS for the scribes and Pharisees
WE NEED TO UNDERSTAND…
MY IMAGE OF JESUS OR MY VERSION OF JESUS THAT WOULD NOT EVER CORRECT ANYONE FOR DOING EVIL
THAT REALLY WOULD NOT BRING THE HAMMER DOWN ON ANYBODY…
WE HAVE TO STOP AND THINK, “WAIT! IS THAT ACCURATE?”
Matthew 23:17, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful but within they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.”
On the OUTSIDE you look fine
On the INSIDE you are CORRUPT
Whenever a preacher, priest, etc. someone teaching Christianity or Catholicism, or teaching about Jesus, when they get to a place where their teaching has some teeth to it, there are people who will say, “Hey! You can’t judge! You can’t condemn someone for their actions!”
That is PARTLY true
Jesus has already made it clear, “Judge not lest ye be judged.”
What he is REALLY saying is, “CONDEMN NOT LEST YE BE CONDEMNED.”
MEANING I CAN’T JUDGE A PERSON’S HEART
Jesus COMMANDS us to JUDGE BY FRUITS
“By their fruits you will know them.”
“A good tree only produces good fruit and a rotten tree produces bad fruit. And by your fruits you will know them.”
YOU HAVE TO JUDGE THE FRUITS
WE HAVE TO ACTUALLY LOOK AT PEOPLE’S ACTIONS
ESPECIALLY IF THEY ARE TELLING US TO DO SOMETHING
Evaluate that, “Is that something I should be doing?”
“Are they living an EVIL LIFE?”
“Or are they living a HOLY LIFE?”
We HAVE to make a DETERMINATION
WE DO NOT MAKE A CONDEMNATION
We have to ASSESS this and be able to LOOK AT PEOPLE’S ACTIONS
AS WE LOOK AT OUR OWN ACTIONS
“Even if my HEART was in the right place, my ACTIONS were evil.”
“Even if your HEART was in the right place, those ACTIONS were wrong.”
WE HAVE TO JUDGE ACTIONS!!
That is what Jesus is doing here
IT IS REALLY IMPORTANT!!
Again, Fr. Mike is NOT in the position of Jesus
YOU AND I are NOT in the position of Jesus
One of the things we realize is that JESUS WAS NOT SAPPY OR SOPPY
JESUS WAS NOT WEAK
Jesus was MEEK AND HUMBLE OF HEART
MEEK IS NOT WEAK!!
To MEEK a horse was to take a stallion, a powerful wild horse, and to make it RIDEABLE, to BRING IT UNDER CONTROL
So you don’t take away any of the STRENGTH of the horse away when you make it MEEK
You put that strength and power UNDER CONTROL
JESUS IS MEEK
THAT DOES NOT MEAN THAT JESUS IS WEAK
IT MEANS THAT JESUS HAS ALL POWER UNDER HEAVEN AND EARTH AND IT IS UNDER CONTROL!!
UNDER CONTROL OF TRUTH
UNDER CONTROL OF LOVE
UNDER CONTROL OF HIS OWN WILL
Does that make sense?
I hope it does
It is REALLY IMPORTANT FOR US to NOT just focus on Jesus’ MERCY
It is REALLY IMPORTANT FOR US to NOT just focus on Jesus’ JUDGMENT
BOTH ARE REAL!!
BUT WE NEED TO HEAR IT ALL!!
No one talks more about HELL in THE ENTIRE BIBLE than JESUS
No one talks more about, “This could end up bringing you to a place where you are thrown outside with gnashing and grinding of teeth with wailing,” THAN JESUS!!
JESUS IS THE ONE WHO TALKS MORE ABOUT HELL THAN ANYONE ELSE!!
SO WE NEED TO REALIZE THAT HELL IS REAL!!
HEAVEN IS REAL!!
AMEN TO THAT!!
SO IS HELL
HEAVEN IS THE PROMISE OF GOD
HELL IS A REAL POSSIBILITY FOR EVERYONE OF US
So we just say, “God, help me. Like St. Paul I drive myself and I train myself for fear that after having preached to others, I myself might be lost.”
SO WE NEED GRACE
EVERY SINGLE DAY WE NEED GRACE
NO MATTER WHO WE ARE
BECAUSE GOD LOVES US
BECAUSE GOD FIGHTS FOR US
BECAUSE GOD HAS FOUGHT FOR US
We can say, “I don’t care.” and MOVE OUR OWN WAY
We can say, “Yes, Lord! Thank you for fighting for me. I’m yours with my WHOLE HEART, MIND, SOUL, AND STRENGTH.”
Fr. Mike is praying that this is what YOU SAY TODAY
Pray that Fr. Mike is saying that today as well
PRAY FOR FR. MIKE
PRAY FOR EACH OTHER
Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise and glory. Thank you so much. You are helping us. You are walking with us. Lord God, how blessed are we that you walk with us? That you are leading us? That you are accompanying us with your Grace and with your Word and with your Truth and with your Love that you continue to just, little by little, reveal your heart more and more to us. Help us to accept you as you are revealing yourself, because that is not always easy. Help us to accept you as you reveal yourself. Not OUR version of you. But YOU, YOURSELF. Help us to know you and to love you just as we are known by you and loved by you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”