Day 266: Son of the father

Matthew 27:1-10 Judas was remorseful for having betrayed Christ, but his remorse lacked faith and trust in God’s forgiveness and mercy. Note how the chief priests were less concerned about their role in the conspiracy to unjustly arrest and kill Christ than they were about fulfilling the Law by not placing the “blood money” in the Temple treasury. (CCC 2468)

Ch 27:11-31 The Jewish authorities were prevented under Roman law from executing Christ, so they brought him before Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea, who could order his execution. (CCC 597-598)

Ch 27:26, 29: Christ’s scourging was a horrific punishment reserved for the worst of criminals and rebellious slaves, a series of lashes with leather whips that had metal hooks or other sharp objects attached to it so as to rip and puncture the skin with every blow. His crowning with thorns and mocking at the hands of Gentile soldiers show how his rejection and Death were the work of both Gentiles and Jews. (CCC 596, 591)

Ch 27:32-56 The jeering crowd, the dividing of the clothes, Christ’s cry of abandonment from the Cross, as well as many other details of the Passion are direct fulfillments of Old Testament prophecies. Christ’s intense suffering in his Body and Soul were real and unmitigated by his divine nature. Christ’s refusal of the gall, used as a painkiller, showed his willingness to accept all of the suffering required by the Redemption. He experienced an excruciating death naturally involving the separation of body and soul as he bore the weight of the sins of all people. (CCC 515, 585, 599-602)

Ch 27:46 These words, which begin Psalm 22, give voice to great suffering. While the words, at first glance, seem to show despair, the psalm ends with rousing words of glory and victory. (CCC 603, 2853)

Ch 27:50 The Death and Resurrection of Christ occurred at a specific time in history. Nevertheless, the redemptive sacrifice is made present sacramentally in every celebration of the Holy Mass. Through this celebration, we can unite our work and suffering to our Lord’s own Sacrifice on the Cross, re-presented in the Eucharistic Sacrifice. (CCC 613-614, 1364)

Ch 27:51 The curtain of the temple is torn in two: This curtain separated the people from God’s presence in the Holy of Holies, the inner sanctum of the Temple, where the high priest alone would make sacrifices in the presence of God on behalf of the people once a year. Its tearing apart symbolizes the reconciliation of God and humanity, the rending of what separated the human person from God. The Old Covenant had fulfilled its role and was giving way to the New Covenant in Christ. The fact that the curtain was torn from top to bottom suggests it was an act of God. (CCC 586)

Ch 27:52-53 Many bodies of the saints...were raised...appeared to many: It is not clear whether the saints’ appearances referred to apparitions or a true return to bodily human life, but it may also refer to the salvation of those who had died under the Old Covenant and before the reconciliation of God and humanity. The Church teaches that after his Death, as we profess in the Apostles’ Creed, Christ “descended into hell”-here meaning not the eternal Hell, but a kind of intermediate state or Purgatory for the just men and women of the Old Covenant waiting for the gates of Heaven to open up for them. This was sometimes referred to as Abraham’s bosom (cf. Lk 16:22). (CCC 624, 627, 632-637)

Ch 27:54 Truly this was the Son of God: It is not clear whether the centurion was confessing the Messiah or as a divine being. “Son of God” was often used in the Old Testament to refer to one who had an especially close relationship with God, similar to an “adopted son.” The term was applied at various times to the faithful, to angels, or to certain Jewish leaders. (CCC 441) 

Ch 27:55-56 Mary the mother of James and Joseph: This Mary and her sons were relatives of Christ, but clearly this Mary was not his Mother, and James and Joseph were not literal brothers. This conclusion is reinforced later when this woman is referred to as “the other Mary” (Mt 28:1). The various parts of the Passion and Death of Christ are commemorated in many ways in the liturgy and worship today, including the Sacrifice of the Mass, the Liturgy of Good Friday, the reading of the Passion narrative on Palm Sunday, and the popular devotion of the Stations of the Cross. (CCC 500)

Ch 27:57-66 The Jews bought a hasty burial of Christ’s body because he was crucified on the eve of the Sabbath, the eve of Passover; thus, no work could be done after nightfall that evening through the next day. (CCC 500, 624-627, 631-635, 2171-2172)

Ch 28:1-10 Christians celebrate Sunday as the Lord’s Day because it is the day of Christ’s Resurrection-the “eighth day” after the Sabbath and the “first day” of the week, symbolizing the new creation that took place through the Redemption. It is important to note that the first day of the week refers to the first day of the new Creation inaugurated by the Resurrection of Christ. (CCC 500, 652, 2174)

Ch 28:9-10 Took hold of his feet: The body of the Risen Christ had physical properties and, therefore, could be touched, but it is a new and glorious body.

Tell my brethren: This is the first time in Matthew that Christ refers to the disciples as his brothers; it indicates the filial relationship of the faithful as adopted sons of God the Father. The redemption merited the sanctifying grace by which we share in the divine life and, thereby, we can become children of God. 

Do not be afraid: Christ gives us the same message to rejoice because his Death and Resurrection have conquered sin and death once and for all. (CCC 641, 645, 654)

Ch 28:11-15 The bribing of the soldiers by the elders so they could claim Christ’s body had been stolen by the disciples did little to slow the spread of the news of his Resurrection. The fact that a bribe was tendered points out that the soldiers and elders had no other explanation for the empty tomb. (CCC 640)

Ch 28:16-17 Some doubted: Despite all of Christ’s predictions and appearances, the disciples still called the Resurrection into doubt. This doubt provides evidence that the physical Resurrection of Christ did in fact take place and was not a conspiratorial deception or a fanciful expression of the disciples’ faith. (CCC 644-645)

Ch 28:18-20 All authority in heaven and on earth: Being the Son of God, Christ possessed the authority to delegate or share his power with his Apostles and their successors, who confer his grace through the Sacraments and act in the name of Christ. (CCC 1444-1445, 2049-2051, 2156, 2165)

Ch 28:19-20 The Church is by nature missionary for it was Christ who sent his Apostles forth throughout the world to proclaim the Gospel, telling them to “make disciples of all nations.” We call the Church “catholic” (“universal”) because Christ, through the Church, seeks the salvation of all people. The graces of the Redemption come to individuals through the Sacraments of the Church, beginning with Baptism. 

I am with you always: Christ is with us in many ways, but especially through the Sacraments of the Church. He is also present in the Church’s teachings, which he guards from all error. (CCC 2, 189, 730, 767, 788, 831, 860, 1122, 1257)

Ch 28:19 In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: This Trinitarian formula given to us by Christ forms the beginning of every Christian prayer, including the liturgical prayer of the Church. The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, often referred to as Trinity Sunday, is celebrated on the Sunday following Pentecost. (CCC 189, 232, 1122, 1276, 2156)

Ch 28:20 I am with you always: Christ’s promise to remain with the Church is fulfilled in his mystical presence among us and in the Sacraments, particularly the Eucharist; it is also manifest in the Holy Spirit, who protects the teaching authority of the Church from error. (CCC 1-2, 80-83, 849-850, 1223, 2743)

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

Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise this day. This day that we just hear not only of the great Passion of your Son, the great Sacrifice that he offered himself once and for all. But also of the great power of the Resurrection. We realize that the Spirit that raised Christ from the dead, you have placed in us in our Baptism, Lord God. The same Spirit of Power that has lifted up Christ out of the grave, you have given to us. So we give you glory. Not only for the Passion, the Death, and the Resurrection of the only beloved Son of God, the only begotten Son of God that was given for us through your glory, Father. But also, thank you for extending that same Spirit to us. Help us to everyday do what Jesus commanded his disciples: to go and tell all the nations. Make disciples everywhere we go. To help people come to  know your great love, your great power, your great goodness, and your great plan for their lives. Lord God, thank you for this Messianic Checkpoint. Thank you for the Gospel of Matthew. Thank you for Matthew himself, and for all that you have done in his life and all that you do and continue to do in our lives. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”