08 September 2011

Daily Gospel Reflection - 08 September 2011


Matthew 2:13-23: When the magi had departed, an angel from the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up. Take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod will soon search for the child in order to kill him.” Joseph got up and, during the night, took the child and his mother to Egypt. He stayed there until Herod died. This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: I have called my son out of Egypt.

When Herod knew the magi had fooled him, he grew very angry. He sent soldiers to kill all the male children in Bethlehem and in all the surrounding territory who were two years old and younger, according to the time that he had learned from the magi. This fulfilled the word spoken through Jeremiah the prophet:

  A voice was heard in Ramah,
     weeping and much grieving.
  Rachel weeping for her children,
     and she did not want to be comforted,
        because they were no more.

After King Herod died, an angel from the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt. “Get up,” the angel said, “and take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel. Those who were trying to kill the child are dead.” Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus ruled over Judea in place of his father Herod, Joseph was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he went to the area of Galilee. He settled in a city called Nazareth so that what was spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled: He will be called a Nazarene.

One of the best New Testament scholars around today is Bishop N. T. (Tom) Wright. He has written extensively on Jesus, Paul, and the New Testament. His writing is aimed at all levels of understanding from academia to the beginner to just about everyone in between. In fact, he has a New Testament commentary series called ‘[Fill in the blank] for Everyone’ (for example, see ‘Matthew for Everyone’). These are quite helpful when dealing with Bible themes and ideas that we have either not noticed or haven’t been taught. He is really good at giving a ‘bird’s eye view’ or over-arching look at the story(ies) of the Bible. You can also find articles, as well as audio and video lectures, at http://www.ntwrightpage.com/.

One of the things that was really helpful for me is his insight into the ministry of Jesus. And while today’s reading isn’t actually about anything Jesus did, it is about him. According to Bishop Wright, Jesus not only came and did what only God can do, but he also fulfilled what Israel was supposed to be and do. We can see this in today’s reading. ‘Matthew’ stated that Jesus’ coming out of Egypt fulfilled the passage from Hosea. There, it states, ‘When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son’ (Hosea 11.1 CEB; emphasis added). This goes back to the Exodus story and shows that Jesus, indeed, was sent to be Israel and do what Israel failed to do. ‘Matthew’ seems to have understood that Jesus was Israel in the truest sense of the word. That he represented all the Israel was supposed to be and do. If that is true, and I believe that it is, we start to see Jesus’ life in a different light. Starting from his birth, we see that his life was a fulfillment of all that went before him. We see him as the goal of the whole story of Israel (see Romans 10.4).

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On a side note is the issue of the Jewish Scriptures being quoted in the New Testament. I have some friends of mine that have pointed out (on more than one occasion) that they have issues with the quotations in the New Testament. They point to the discrepancies between what the Jewish Scriptures states and what the New Testament states. And, frankly, this is an issue with how Bibles are translated today. That is, for a lot of Bibles, the translators go back to the most reliable Hebrew texts to do their translations. However, the Scriptures that would have been readily available to the writers of the New Testament would have been the Greek translations known as the Septuagint (seen sometimes as LXX). When referencing the LXX, the issues with the quotations (mostly) melt away. You can find good translations of the LXX online. I use ‘The Septuagint Bible Online’. Today, this translation is used primarily by the Orthodox Church. For some good information about a Bible they are working on, see here. For more information about Orthodox Christian beliefs, see here.



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In the Love of the Three in One,

Br Jack+, LC

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