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.