JULY 17, 2010 — SATURDAY OF 15TH WEEK:  MATTHEW 12; 14-28


SAINT MATTHEW REFLECTED on the meaning of Jesus’ life during many years before writing his Gospel, around the year 70. In the beginning of his work he makes the fundamental point that the person of Jesus in becoming man embodies God Himself and so designates him as Emmanuel, which is translated God with us. Again in the very last verse of this same Gospel, he records Jesus’ final words to his apostle before returning to the Father, words that reflect the same truth: “Behold, I am with you always even to the end of the world. Accordingly his entire account of the life and teaching of the Lord is contained within these two affirmations of the divine presence as operative in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Matthew depicts the whole of Jesus’ life, from his birth to his ascension, as being the personal presence of a Divine person in this world of time.


In today’s passage the Evangelist expresses a more detailed insight, the fruit of a conclusion he had arrived at concerning the identity of our Lord when he affirms that he is the one who fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah. Here is my servant, whom I have chosen, my loved one in whom I delight. His healings of the sick and the ready attractiveness of his manner of dealing with people were the fruit of a divine gift. Matthew was himself inspired to see in Jesus the one who fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, proclaimed many centuries before. The evangelist came to understand that Jesus’ healing power, had implications that were indicative of a reality far greater than physical healings. They revealed a depth of significance attaching to his person that opened up an altogether new dimension to human life. If our Lord avoided all occasion for appearing as a religious celebrity, it was not only due to his modesty and meekness; he was concerned that the true, transcendent nature of his witness should be understood. This concern explains why our Lord ordered the witnesses of the healings not to focus attention on the physical miracles he effected. Rather, the heart of his message was the meaning of his own person. It is the presence of this man, who is God’s beloved Son, as the emissary of God, is the message and the messenger. Having witnessed to this hidden but subtly revealed truth, Matthew concludes his citation of Isaiah with the prophet’s comment that “in his name the Gentiles will hope.”


Jesus, the Word of God made flesh, is our one hope that gives a solid basis for happiness. To believe in the Lord as remaining not only with us always, but making his abode within us means that we not only look forward to fulfillment in the next world, but possess its seed already now, in this world of time. Knowing that in him we have access to the life that does not perish with this world that is passing away, day by day makes of our hope a source of inner strength. This firm faith makes of our prayer a true communion with Our Lord, who is the source of life that is eternal.


As we celebrate with gratitude the gift of this divine life at this Eucharist, we do well to reflect more consciously and deliberately on the message of today’s Gospel that Jesus is the presence of God with us even now. He accompanies us on our way through time in this world so as to be the fulfillment of our hope in that life with the Father that has no end. In our inmost being may this sacrament of the crucified and risen Savior cause the seed of this divine and unending life to grow in us until the day dawns when we meet Him face to face. &

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

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