We are in the DOUBLE DIGITS TO GO in The Bible in a Year!!
Today is the last day of the Messianic Checkpoint
Tomorrow we start THE RETURN!!
We spent SO MUCH TIME in The Exile reading through all the prophets and now we have The Return
We will start with Ezra, then Haggai, then Zechariah, Nehemiah, Esther, etc.
SO GET EXCITED!!
One thing about Matthew
This might be strange for some people
In every Catholic Church, there is an ALTAR
In every altar, there is an ALTAR STONE
In every alter stone, there is a RELIC
A RELIC is basically a piece of bone, most likely, of a saint that had died
Someone who gave glory to the Lord with their life
That tradition comes way back in the Early Church when the Church had to celebrate mass underground in the catacombs
Oftentimes they would use the sarcophagi, the coffins, of saints as the altar
So there is this connection
Here are our ANCESTORS IN THE FAITH
Here are the ONES WHO HAVE GONE BEFORE US
We remember them and ASK FOR THEIR INTERCESSION
Just like Fr. Mike asks us to PRAY FOR HIM
Just like Fr. Mike PRAYS FOR YOU
WE INTERCEDE FOR ONE ANOTHER
We also know as we heard Jesus say two days ago, “God is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living.” (Would you like a review? Go read Day 264: Preaching Without Practice in The Bible in a Year Study Guide 😁)
THEREFORE ALL THOSE WHO DIE IN HIM ARE STILL ALIVE!!
OF COURSE THEY CAN OFFER PRAYERS FOR US!! (Yeah, Catholics DO NOT WORSHIP SAINTS!! 🤯)
JUST LIKE YOU AND I CAN OFFER PRAYERS FOR EACH OTHER!!
So we have that RELIC as a REMINDER of that saint and those who have gone before us
The way God has worked in the lives of IMPERFECT PEOPLE to give glory
Also as that TIE TO HISTORY AS WELL
Also as a TIE TO RIGHT NOW
When we get to The Book of Revelation, we will see ALL THOSE SAINTS IN HEAVEN
ALL OF THOSE IN HEAVEN….saints with a “lower case s”
ANYONE who is baptized
EVERYONE who is in Heaven
The HOLY ONES are the SAINTS
We see all those SAINTS in The Book of Revelation gathered around the THRONE OF THE LAMB and they are OFFERING UP PRAYERS
When we pray the Mass ON EARTH, we are JOINING the prayer of the Mass in Heaven
The Glory to the Father in the Power of the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ
We are joining that HEAVENLY WORSHIP THAT IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW!! (Would you like a visual to perhaps help you understand better? Go watch this video: The Veil Removed - Film 🤯🤯🤯)
That RELIC in the altar is a REMINDER of that
All that background is to say that in Fr. Mike’s diocese in Duluth, Minnesota in the CATHEDRAL, the relic underneath the altar in the cathedral is of ST. MATTHEW THE APOSTLE!!
THIS IS REMARKABLE!!
THEY HAVE A PIECE OF THE BONE OF THE MAN WHO WROTE THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW!!
THE TAX COLLECTOR WHO WAS CALLED FROM HIS CUSTOMS POST BY JESUS WHO SAID, “COME FOLLOW ME!”
THE MAN WHO GOT UP AND FOLLOWED AFTER THE LORD!!
So we see this LIVING CONNECTION
We see this HISTORICAL CONNECTION
THIS CONNECTION BETWEEN THE EARLY CHURCH WITH THIS PARTICULAR APOSTLE WHOSE GOSPEL WE HAVE BEEN LISTENING TO FOR THE LAST EIGHT OR NINE DAYS!!
WHAT A GIFT!!
MORE OF A GIFT THAN ANY ONE CHRISTIAN, ANY ONE APOSTLE IS THE GREAT SACRIFICE OF JESUS CHRIST!!
We have the inspection of Jesus by Pilate
We have his SILENCE
We have the crowd that chooses Barabbas over Jesus
We might have mentioned this in one of the other Messianic Checkpoints
It is compelling to recognize the name of BARABBAS
“Bar-” in Hebrew means “son of”
“Abba” in Hebrew means “father”
So BARABBAS means SON OF THE FATHER!! (Do you remember when we first learned this? Go back and read Day 104: The Priestly Prayer of Jesus in The Bible in a Year Study Guide for a refresher 😁)
We have Jesus who is THE SON OF THE FATHER
We have Barabbas, the one GUILTY son of the father who was an insurrectionist, who was guilty of murder
We have Jesus who was COMPLETELY INNOCENT
What did the people want?
The people want the MURDERER to be released to them
This FALSE son of the father
And they were willing to give up to SACRIFICE...
They were willing to give up to CRUCIFIXION...
THE ACTUAL TRUE SON OF THE FATHER
We see this happening ALL OVER THE PLACE in the Old Testament
Remember Jacob and Esau and how Esau was willing to trade his birthright for a BOWL OF STEW...SOME RED STUFF!!(Do you remember reading this? Go back and read Day 13: Esau Sells His Birthright in The Bible in a Year Study Guide for a review 😁)
Here we are willing to TRADE OUR BIRTHRIGHT…
THE GIFT GOD HAS GIVEN US…
FOR WHATEVER SIN WE WANT…
MY OWN WILL…
NOT GOD’S WILL!!
Here are the people of Israel and OUR HEARTS ARE ALL THE SAME
No matter how different we might be
OUR HEARTS ARE THE SAME!!
Our hearts are SO TEMPTED to choose the FALSE instead of the TRUE
To choose the BROKEN instead of the WHOLE
To choose BARABBAS instead of the TRUE SON OF GOD, THE TRUE SON OF THE FATHER
It’s also interesting that once we have gone through the prophets, to recognize how the people are saying, “Let his blood be on us and on our children.”
There is an element there that has sometimes been used to JUSTIFY OPPRESSION or MISTREATMENT OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE
THAT IS NEVER JUSTIFIED AT ALL EVER!!
This has been written by Matthew
Matthew recorded that they had said this
He is recording this in some ways as a PROPHET (remember prophets FORTHTELL as well as FORETELL 😉)
JEREMIAH said the same thing
EZEKIEL said the same thing
ISAIAH said the same thing
“If you don’t REPENT, here is what is going to happen. The BLOOD OF THE INNOCENT IS GOING TO BE ON YOUR HANDS!”
This is a CONTINUATION
We need to read the Gospels IN THE CONTEXT OF ALL THAT WE HAVE READ BEFORE
So when we have these difficult passages that look like they are condemning the Jewish people, it is NOT a condemnation from these NEW CHRISTIANS
It is a CONDEMNATION of a JEWISH PROPHET saying that
Hopefully that makes sense to you
Once we understand THE CONTEXT
When we read The Book of the Acts of the Apostles, the EARLY CHRISTIANS DID NOT SEE themselves as STARTING A NEW RELIGION
They saw themselves as JEWS and JUDAISM IS NOW FULFILLED
All the stories of the Old Testament that they had been reading
All the COVENANT that God had made with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David are FULFILLED NOW IN JESUS
NONE OF THEM would have thought, “I’m going to say these things about the Jews. That’s THEM. And here is US.”
They are saying, “THAT IS US!!”
“WE ARE THE PEOPLE OF THE COVENANT!!”
“WE ARE THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL!!”
“AND NOW THE COVENANT IS FULFILLED!!”
As Jesus said just yesterday in The Last Supper, “This is the Blood of the NEW AND ETERNAL COVENANT.”
THIS IS THE CONTINUATION!!
Just like there was the first COVENANT with Adam and Eve
The next COVENANT was with Noah
The next COVENANT was with Abraham
It goes on down the line
FINALLY, HERE IS THE COVENANT THAT JESUS ESTABLISHES IN HIS BLOOD AT THE LAST SUPPER AND THEN CONSUMMATES ON THE CROSS!!
We should end on The Resurrection
There is something to reflect on when it comes to Jesus on the Cross in Matthew’s Gospel
Jesus does say these words clearly, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?”
“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”
THIS IS PROFOUND!!
There are MANY elements to reflect on
But one of them is that Jesus, who was NOT abandoned by his Father
The Father NEVER TURNED HIS FACE AWAY FROM JESUS
THE FATHER WAS UNITED WITH HIS SON IN THAT SELF-OFFERING
JESUS WAS ALLOWED TO FEEL THE ABANDONMENT THAT EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US HAS FELT 🤯🤯🤯
JESUS WAS ALLOWED TO FEEL THAT ISOLATION THAT EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US HAS FELT 🤯🤯🤯
JESUS WAS ALLOWED TO FEEL FORSAKEN EVEN THOUGH HE KNEW HE WASN’T FORSAKEN 🤯🤯🤯
Just like you and I can know that THE FATHER HAS NOT FORSAKEN ME…
IT FEELS THAT WAY
That Jesus entered into that in a way that is IMPOSSIBLE FOR US TO FATHOM
When you and I have felt FORSAKEN
When you and I have felt ABANDONED
When you and I have felt ALONE
JESUS ALLOWED THAT FEELING TO OVERWHELM HIM ON THE CROSS 🤯🤯🤯
THERE IS NO EXPERIENCE, NO MATTER HOW DARK, THAT JESUS DID NOT ALLOW TO TOUCH HIS LIFE!!
THIS IS ONE OF THEM!!
At the same time, we also know that Jesus is quoting Psalm 22!! (Do you remember when we read Psalm 22? Go back and read Day 161: The Crucifixion of Christ in The Bible in a Year Study Guide to see the prophetic imagery in this beautiful Psalm 😁)
Psalm 22 is this INCREDIBLE PRAYER OF DESPERATION
THIS INCREDIBLE PRAYER OF FEELING ABANDONED
At the end of Psalm 22, there is a WORD OF HOPE
That WORD OF HOPE is captured in “MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?”
THIS IS SO POWERFUL!!
How can we not give God thanks for him giving himself for us?
And then, RISING FROM THE DEAD?
IT IS NOT JUST SACRIFICE!!
It is NOT the DEPTH TO WHICH JESUS SACRIFICED THAT SAVES US!!
IT IS THE DEPTH OF HIS LOVE FOR US THAT SAVES US!!
That LOVE that not only drew him down from heaven through the INCARNATION
That LOVE that not only moved him through life to experience POVERTY AND PAIN, FRIENDSHIP AND ABANDONMENT, AND BETRAYAL
That LOVE that moved him to ENTER INTO HIS PASSION, DEATH, AND CRUCIFIXION
ALSO THE LOVE THAT RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD!!
ALSO THE LOVE THAT BROUGHT HIM TO ASCEND TO HEAVEN!!
ALSO THE LOVE WITH WHICH HE SENDS....US...FORTH!!
THIS GREAT COMMISION...
Where Jesus says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”
THIS GREAT COMMISION JESUS SAYS TO YOU NOW!!
GO AND MAKE DISCIPLES!!
Sometimes we can’t go to the ends of the earth
The disciples we make can be the naked children in your home that you clothe
The disciples we make can be the hungry children in your home that need to be fed
The disciples we make can be the nieces and nephews we have that need to be comforted
The disciples we make can be the people around you that need to be comforted
THOSE ALSO MAY BE THE PLACES WHERE YOU AND I ARE CALLED TO MAKE DISCIPLES
MAYBE NOT FAR OFF REGIONS
BUT MAYBE THERE AS WELL
BUT FOR SURE…
Jesus says, “GO MAKE DISCIPLES IN YOUR FAMILY. MAKE DISCIPLES OF YOUR FRIENDS. MAKE DISCIPLES IN THE PEOPLE NEAR YOU. AND YOU ARE NOT ALONE. BEHOLD, I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS TO THE CLOSE OF THE AGE.”
My friends, THE AGE IS NOT YET CLOSED
And therefore, WE KNOW THAT HE IS WITH US
FR. MIKE IS PRAYING FOR YOU
PRAY FOR FR. MIKE
PRAY FOR EACH OTHER