Gospel of Matthew – Structure

For the last few days Mass readings have been from the Gospel of Matthew. While there is great wisdom and truth in the individual readings, it seems that richness of understanding is increased if we understand how they fit into the literary structure of the Gospel. Here is a good link to a source explaining the basics of that structure, work by Dr. Felix Just. Below is the pertinent exhibit from that source. If you click on the link, you will also find a complete outline of Matthew alongside comparisons with the other two Synoptic Gospels, Mark and Luke. Note we have been reading from the second of five discourses of Jesus in the Gospel.

Bottom line is that we don’t know if Jesus delivered these words in Matthew 10 in the order written in the Gospel or even at the time indicated, but we do know that the divinely inspired Gospel writer composed his gospel of the materials and information he had in the form in which we read it today. It is fascinating that the Gospel is organized around these five discourses, separated by narratives and ending with the Passion and Resurrection Narrative.

This discourse we have just been reading begins with Matthew 10:1 (Then he summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness. ) and ends with Matthew 11:1 (When Jesus finished giving these commands to his twelve disciples, he went away from that place to teach and to preach in their towns.) The other four discourses in Matthew are bracketed by similar beginning and ending phrases so watch for those when reading the Gospel.

In an earlier post I quoted some of Dr. Just’s work on the Psalms.


The Sins of the Father and his Sons

Who can name the twelve sons of Israel (Jacob) in order of birth and give the names of their mothers? Almost nobody I guess. I couldn’t, even now, after writing it all down. They are in the bold print below, daughter Dinah included. I hope this list will come in handy for future reference.

From dysfunctional family to forgiveness and God’s Love and Grace, this is a fascinating story. I see a Netflix series that would be spellbinding, the average person being as shocked at the ending as many fans of The Americans were at seeing daughter Paige standing on the train platform as her Russian spy parents left the station to avoid arrest and prosecution.

We hear all the stories, usually one at a time, without much context, but reading these sixteen chapters of Genesis in one sitting pulls it all together. In spite of all the sins and sinning and sinfulness, we have this statement of faith from Joseph, at the end, as he forgives his brothers: Genesis 50:20 (NABRE) Even though you meant harm to me, God meant it for good, to achieve this present end, the survival of many people. And then there is that ominous eighth verse of the first chapter of Exodus, the beginning of the story of Moses. This story is great theological truth in an ancient literary masterpiece.

Joseph, by the way, comes through the whole story as virtuous and upright except that it does bother me that he devised and implemented a plan to confiscate all the wealth of the people and turn it over to the Pharaoh. Maybe that Pharaoh was a benevolent and loving dictator with the best interests of the citizens at heart, but there is always that next king. Maybe this story was in his mind when Samuel warned the people (1 Samuel 8) about the problems with kings.

And, the story goes on. We should not be surprised when we learn that the twelve tribes named after the twelve sons end up fighting and dividing and being conquered by Assyrians and Babylonians.


July 3, 2019 – Faith and Doubt

An internet search for “faith and doubt” brought up several links, the most interesting of which seemed to be this blog post by Thomas Savoie, about whom I know nothing except that he professes to be a serious Catholic, published on augustinesalley.wordpress.com. The purpose of that blog is:

To reflect on Aristotle’s great maxim: “The unexamined life isn’t worth living”  by discussing philosophy, faith and science. Dedicated to my favorite heroes of philosophy: St Augustine and Aristotle

That purpose and Mr. Savoie’s post on faith and doubt seem to me to be consistent with using our minds as commanded by Jesus and as suggested by the Catechism:

Matthew 22:37 – He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.

Catechism Part 3, Section 1, Chapter 1, Article 6 – MORAL CONSCIENCE – 1776 “Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey. Its voice, ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, sounds in his heart at the right moment…. For man has in his heart a law inscribed by God…. His conscience is man’s most secret core and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths.

You can read the blog post Faith and Doubt HERE. I found myself in general agreement with his points, so, if you find problems with his positions, let me know where I am going wrong.


Catechism on Church

Often in these posts I reference Sacred Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, two important documents I find to be well aligned. The post on New Testament references to church was so long, I decided the Catechism references had to go in a different post. So, here it is, a followup to the MPG discussion of June 26.

There is a significant section about the Church in the Catechism. It is found in the section on the Creed and is organized around the statement that we “believe in one holy, catholic, and apostolic church.” I could copy and past the whole thing here but it is best read from the Vatican document.  The section can be read at the Vatican Website. I wonder how many Catholics will find therein surprising statements, even some with which they disagree.

June 26, 2019 – The Church/A Church

After our discussion Wednesday morning about parish strength, I had the idea of taking a look at all the places the Greek word translated as church is used in the New Testament. It is used 114 times, more than half in Acts which is all about the brand new Church, in Corinthians where St. Paul is having a lot of difficulty with the local church, and in Revelation which includes letters to seven of the early churches. The word is translated as “assembly” about a half dozen times, but otherwise as church. Here is a little screen shot from biblehub.com about the Greek word. If curious about context of some of these verses, here is the place to look it up.

Below are the 111 verses, a few with more than one use of the Greek word and a half dozen or so translating the Greek word as “assembly:” The double spacing is between chapters.

Some verses may challenge you to look up the context and see what is going on. It will be obvious from most whether the reference is to the whole church or to a local congregation or parish. Some obviously contain good advice for the church today.

Yes, I know it is a bit overwhelming, but ask the Lord’s blessing and read a few, thinking about context and looking for inspiration. After all, we are members of the Church, the Body of Christ.

NAB Matthew 16:18 And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.

NAB Matthew 18:17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.

NAB Acts 5:11 And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.

NAB Acts 7:38 It was he who, in the assembly in the desert, was with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai and with our ancestors, and he received living utterances to hand on to us.
NAB Acts 8:1 Now Saul was consenting to his execution.On that day, there broke out a severe persecution of the church in Jerusalem, and all were scattered throughout the countryside of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 3 Saul, meanwhile, was trying to destroy the church; entering house after house and dragging out men and women, he handed them over for imprisonment.

NAB Acts 9:31 The church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria was at peace. It was being built up and walked in the fear of the Lord, and with the consolation of the holy Spirit it grew in numbers.

NAB Acts 11:22 The news about them reached the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas (to go) to Antioch. 26 and when he had found him he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a large number of people, and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians.

NAB Acts 12:1 About that time King Herod laid hands upon some members of the church to harm them. 5 Peter thus was being kept in prison, but prayer by the church was fervently being made to God on his behalf.

NAB Acts 13:1 Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Symeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who was a close friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.

NAB Acts 14:23 They appointed presbyters for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, commended them to the Lord in whom they had put their faith. 27 And when they arrived, they called the church together and reported what God had done with them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.

NAB Acts 15:3 They were sent on their journey by the church, and passed through Phoenicia and Samaria telling of the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the brothers. 4 When they arrived in Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church, as well as by the apostles and the presbyters, and they reported what God had done with them. 22 Then the apostles and presbyters, in agreement with the whole church, decided to choose representatives and to send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. The ones chosen were Judas, who was called Barsabbas, and Silas, leaders among the brothers. 41 He traveled through Syria and Cilicia bringing strength to the churches.

NAB Acts 16:5 Day after day the churches grew stronger in faith and increased in number.

NAB Acts 18:22 Upon landing at Caesarea, he went up and greeted the church and then went down to Antioch.

NAB Acts 19:32 Meanwhile, some were shouting one thing, others something else; the assembly was in chaos, and most of the people had no idea why they had come together. 39 If you have anything further to investigate, let the matter be settled in the lawful assembly, 40 for, as it is, we are in danger of being charged with rioting because of today’s conduct. There is no cause for it. We shall (not) be able to give a reason for this demonstration.” With these words he dismissed the assembly.

NAB Acts 20:17 From Miletus he had the presbyters of the church at Ephesus summoned. 28 Keep watch over yourselves and over the whole flock of which the holy Spirit has appointed you overseers, in which you tend the church of God that he acquired with his own blood.
NAB Romans 16:1 I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is (also) a minister of the church at Cenchreae, 4 who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I am grateful but also all the churches of the Gentiles; 5 greet also the church at their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the firstfruits in Asia for Christ. 16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you. 23 Gaius, who is host to me and to the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the city treasurer, and our brother Quartus greet you.

NAB 1 Corinthians 1:2 to the church of God that is in Corinth, to you who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be holy, with all those everywhere who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.

NAB 1 Corinthians 4:17 For this reason I am sending you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord; he will remind you of my ways in Christ (Jesus), just as I teach them everywhere in every church.

NAB 1 Corinthians 6:4 If, therefore, you have courts for everyday matters, do you seat as judges people of no standing in the church?

NAB 1 Corinthians 7:17 Only, everyone should live as the Lord has assigned, just as God called each one. I give this order in all the churches.

NAB 1 Corinthians 10:32 Avoid giving offense, whether to Jews or Greeks or the church of God,

NAB 1 Corinthians 11:16 But if anyone is inclined to be argumentative, we do not have such a custom, nor do the churches of God. 18 First of all, I hear that when you meet as a church there are divisions among you, and to a degree I believe it; 22 Do you not have houses in which you can eat and drink? Or do you show contempt for the church of God and make those who have nothing feel ashamed? What can I say to you? Shall I praise you? In this matter I do not praise you.

NAB 1 Corinthians 12:28 Some people God has designated in the church to be, first, apostles; second, prophets; third, teachers; then, mighty deeds; then, gifts of healing, assistance, administration, and varieties of tongues.

NAB 1 Corinthians 14:4 Whoever speaks in a tongue builds himself up, but whoever prophesies builds up the church. 5 Now I should like all of you to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. One who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may be built up. 12 So with yourselves: since you strive eagerly for spirits, seek to have an abundance of them for building up the church. 19 but in the church I would rather speak five words with my mind, so as to instruct others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue. 23 So if the whole church meets in one place and everyone speaks in tongues, and then uninstructed people or unbelievers should come in, will they not say that you are out of your minds? 28 But if there is no interpreter, the person should keep silent in the church and speak to himself and to God. 33 since he is not the God of disorder but of peace. As in all the churches of the holy ones, 34 women should keep silent in the churches, for they are not allowed to speak, but should be subordinate, as even the law says. 35 But if they want to learn anything, they should ask their husbands at home. For it is improper for a woman to speak in the church.

NAB 1 Corinthians 15:9 For I am the least of the apostles, not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

NAB 1 Corinthians 16:1 Now in regard to the collection for the holy ones, you also should do as I ordered the churches of Galatia. 19 The churches of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Prisca together with the church at their house send you many greetings in the Lord.

NAB 2 Corinthians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the church of God that is in Corinth, with all the holy ones throughout Achaia:

NAB 2 Corinthians 8:1 We want you to know, brothers, of the grace of God that has been given to the churches of Macedonia, 18 With him we have sent the brother who is praised in all the churches for his preaching of the gospel. 19 And not only that, but he has also been appointed our traveling companion by the churches in this gracious work administered by us for the glory of the Lord (himself) and for the expression of our eagerness. 23 As for Titus, he is my partner and co-worker for you; as for our brothers, they are apostles of the churches, the glory of Christ. 24 So give proof before the churches of your love and of our boasting about you to them.

NAB 2 Corinthians 11:8 I plundered other churches by accepting from them in order to minister to you. 28 And apart from these things, there is the daily pressure upon me of my anxiety for all the churches.

NAB 2 Corinthians 12:13 In what way were you less privileged than the rest of the churches, except that on my part I did not burden you? Forgive me this wrong!

NAB Galatians 1:2 and all the brothers who are with me, to the churches of Galatia: 13 For you heard of my former way of life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it, 22 And I was unknown personally to the churches of Judea that are in Christ;

NAB Ephesians 1:22 And he put all things beneath his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church,

NAB Ephesians 3:10 so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the principalities and authorities in the heavens. 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

NAB Ephesians 5:23 For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church, he himself the savior of the body. 24 As the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her 27 that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 29 For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church, 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church.

NAB Philippians 3:6 in zeal I persecuted the church, in righteousness based on the law I was blameless.

NAB Philippians 4:15 You Philippians indeed know that at the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, not a single church shared with me in an account of giving and receiving, except you alone.

NAB Colossians 1:18 He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he himself might be preeminent. 24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church,

NAB Colossians 4:15 Give greetings to the brothers in Laodicea and to Nympha and to the church in her house. 16 And when this letter is read before you, have it read also in the church of the Laodiceans, and you yourselves read the one from Laodicea.

NAB 1 Thessalonians 1:1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy to the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: grace to you and peace.

NAB 1 Thessalonians 2:14 For you, brothers, have become imitators of the churches of God that are in Judea in Christ Jesus. For you suffer the same things from your compatriots as they did from the Jews,

NAB 2 Thessalonians 1:1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy to the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: 4 Accordingly, we ourselves boast of you in the churches of God regarding your endurance and faith in all your persecutions and the afflictions you endure.

NAB 1 Timothy 3:5 for if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how can he take care of the church of God? 15 But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.

NAB 1 Timothy 5:16 If any woman believer has widowed relatives, she must assist them; the church is not to be burdened, so that it will be able to help those who are truly widows.

NAB Philemon 1:2 to Apphia our sister, to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church at your house.

NAB Hebrews 2:12 saying: “I will proclaim your name to my brothers, in the midst of the assembly I will praise you”;

NAB Hebrews 12:23 and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven, and God the judge of all, and the spirits of the just made perfect,

NAB James 5:14 Is anyone among you sick? He should summon the presbyters of the church, and they should pray over him and anoint (him) with oil in the name of the Lord,

NAB 3 John 1:6 they have testified to your love before the church. Please help them in a way worthy of God to continue their journey. 9 I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to dominate, does not acknowledge us. 10 Therefore, if I come, I will draw attention to what he is doing, spreading evil nonsense about us. And not content with that, he will not receive the brothers, hindering those who wish to do so and expelling them from the church.

NAB Revelation 1:4 John, to the seven churches in Asia: grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, 11 which said, “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.” 20 This is the secret meaning of the seven stars you saw in my right hand, and of the seven gold lampstands: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

NAB Revelation 2:1 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus, write this: ” ‘The one who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks in the midst of the seven gold lampstands says this: 7 ” ‘”Whoever has ears ought to hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the victor I will give the right to eat from the tree of life that is in the garden of God.”‘ 8 “To the angel of the church in Smyrna, write this: ” ‘The first and the last, who once died but came to life, says this: 11 ” ‘”Whoever has ears ought to hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The victor shall not be harmed by the second death.”‘ 12 “To the angel of the church in Pergamum, write this: ” ‘The one with the sharp two-edged sword says this: 17 ” ‘”Whoever has ears ought to hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the victor I shall give some of the hidden manna; I shall also give a white amulet upon which is inscribed a new name, which no one knows except the one who receives it.”‘ 18 “To the angel of the church in Thyatira, write this: ” ‘The Son of God, whose eyes are like a fiery flame and whose feet are like polished brass, says this: 23 I will also put her children to death. Thus shall all the churches come to know that I am the searcher of hearts and minds and that I will give each of you what your works deserve. 29 ” ‘”Whoever has ears ought to hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”‘

NAB Revelation 3:1 “To the angel of the church in Sardis, write this: ” ‘The one who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars says this: “I know your works, that you have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 6 ” ‘”Whoever has ears ought to hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”‘ 7 “To the angel of the church in Philadelphia, write this: ” ‘The holy one, the true, who holds the key of David, who opens and no one shall close, who closes and no one shall open, says this: 13 ” ‘”Whoever has ears ought to hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”‘ 14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea, write this: ” ‘The Amen, the faithful and true witness, the source of God’s creation, says this: 22 ” ‘”Whoever has ears ought to hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”‘”

NAB Revelation 22:16 “I, Jesus, sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the root and offspring of David, the bright morning star.”


June 19 – Fruits of the Spirit

The Fruits of the Holy Spirit

Father Linsky, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and I are in agreement that the Gifts and Fruits of the Holy Spirit go together, the “permanent dispositions” we have received having made it possible to further develop the “perfections” or fruits through habitual exercise of them. So, just as these three Catechism sections were pertinent last week, so they are again.

III. The Gifts and Fruits of the Holy Spirit

1830 The moral life of Christians is sustained by the gifts of the Holy Spirit. These are permanent dispositions which make man docile in following the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

1831 The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. They belong in their fullness to Christ, Son of David.109 They complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them. They make the faithful docile in readily obeying divine inspirations.

1832 The fruits of the Spirit are perfections that the Holy Spirit forms in us as the first fruits of eternal glory. the tradition of the Church lists twelve of them: “charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity.”112

Latin Digression (Can be skipped at little cost.)

Most English language bibles list only nine Fruits of the Spirit, but Footnote 112  in the above CCC selection says that the list of a dozen “fruits” is found in the Vulgate, the Latin version of the Bible produced by St. Jerome in the late 300’s and considered for centuries the official Bible of the Catholic Church. A website with a verse-by-verse translation of the Vulgate offers this for Galatians 5:22-23.

Among the earliest English translations of the Bible, both based at least partly on the Vulgate, were the Douay-Rheims and the King James, the first considered Catholic and the second Protestant. An interesting discussion, shortcomings included, of the two is at Catholic Answers.

Back to the Fruits:

Galatians 5:22-23   In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is

  • love,
  • joy,
  • peace,
  • patience,
  • kindness,
  • generosity,
  • faithfulness, 
  • gentleness,
  • self-control.

Against such there is no law.

It seems that if we practice these nine “fruits” we will also find ourselves modest, continent, and chaste.

And all seem consistent with the Greatest Commandments:

Matthew 22:37-40  He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the greatest and the first commandment.  The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

And with this special instruction from The First Letter of John:

1 John 3:18  Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth.

And here again is the (slightly revised) diagram putting the gifts and fruits in proper context with everything in our spiritual journey from capital sins through the gifts, fruits, cardinal virtues, theological virtues to Mystical Union with the Triune God.