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Fr Ron Johnson

Fr Ron is on Long Service Leave.  Our Acting Vicar is Fr Roger Featherston


Matthew - this years gospel readings.

This year we have the architectural dignity of Matthew’s gospel, the story of a leader
of an ancient, settled and distinguished community. We are in Antioch in Syria, the
third largest city of the Roman Empire, due north from Jerusalem along the Levantine
Mark was Jewish, so was Matthew.
His gospel was finished 10 years after Mark wrote his, so approximately 70 A.D.
Jesus was Jewish. So is our Matthew. Here is a learned Jewish writer, a master of
rich allusive stories that draw on the ancient themes of Judaism and interprets them
Jesus and his followers were dividing the synagogues of Matthew’s City over one
question: Was this Jesus a prophet or a fraud? His followers were making heady
claims about Jesus. They prompted the synagogue leaders to ask - Could these
people be members of the synagogue at all? There was uncertainty on both sides and
an increasingly angry suspicion.
Our Matthew is a wise, experienced teacher. He is steeped in the law (Torah) and
traditions of Judaism and has been a leader of it’s people in Antioch, greatest city of
Rome’s Asians domain. But a moment of decision has been reached. “Who,” asked
Jesus, “do people say that I am?” Matthew’s answer is leading him and all who
follow his teaching away from the synagogue and into a community of their own: the
Matthew builds his gospel in a careful selections of miracles and teaching; he offers
his readers a new Book of the Law shaped on the Law received from Moses that
Moses in turn had received from God. Matthew highlights prophecies and their
fulfilment at every turn: Here in Jesus is the promised Immanuel, “With-Us-God.”
The Law itself, declares Matthew, with all that is foretold, has been brought to its
innate conclusion by a stately, commanding Jesus whose standing puts even Moses
into the shade.
So who can this Jesus be, who must he be, to wield the extraordinary authority that
his followers claim for him? Matthew draws an answer from Judaism that puts the
break with Judaism and the synagogue beyond doubt: Jesus is indeed “God with us,”
here and now.
“All authority,” say Jesus, “has been given to me in heaven and earth………..And
look, I am with you always, every day, until the aeon’s completed end.”
Some of |Matthew’s main themes ring out loud and clear and we have been hearing
them each week in this years Gospel readings. Unfortunately some of these these
themes were all too easily used by the church and fueled for centuries Europe’s
hatred of the Jews. But this was not Matthew’s real music. Matthew foresaw doubts
and difficulties that would face his readers as they were rejected by the Synagogues
and their friends because of their belief in Jesus.
These themes of Matthew were not audible for long. His harmonies were distorted
out of all recognition in the polemics of a later age which murdered countless Jews,
finally leading to the horrific holocaust fueled by Hitler's hatred.

Words from Fr Roger Featherston.

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