Free Course on the Gospel of Matthew on Diocesan Website

by Fr. Patrick Madden

What would our Christmas season be without the story of the Magi and the Star?  These narratives, along with the annunciation to Joseph of our Savior’s birth, are found only in Matthew.  Only in Matthew do we learn of the plans of the wicked King Herod to kill the infant Jesus, and of the flight of the Holy Family to Egypt until the danger was over. For the past year, most of the Sunday Gospel readings have been from St. Luke. Beginning on November 27th, most of the Gospel passages for the next year will be from the Gospel of St. Matthew.

It is impossible to calculate the effect of the Gospel of Matthew on our Catholic spirituality.  The Lord’s Prayer is found in both Matthew and Luke.  However, while even priests and bishops have a hard time reciting Luke’s version from memory, most Catholics who are 5-years-old can say Matthew’s version!  Luke’s Gospel has four Beatitudes; Matthew’s has eight Beatitudes.  I’ll bet the catechism you learned from was based on Matthew!

We Catholics have a special love for St. Peter, whose ministry continues to be exercised through Pope Francis.  Matthew has stories about Peter that are especially beloved to Catholics.  Only in Matthew do we have the story of Peter walking on the water to go to Jesus, and the story of Peter finding a coin the fish’s mouth to pay the Temple tax for Jesus and for himself. The words of Jesus, “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church,” are found only in Matthew.

Other stories unique to Matthew include the Sermon on the Mount and the apparition of Jesus to his disciples on a mountain in Galilee after he rose from the dead. The great Parable of the Last Judgment, where the glorious Son of Man separates the sheep from the goats is found only in this Gospel.

The Office of Catechesis and Greco Institutes has prepared a four-week overview of the Gospel of Matthew.  This series of lectures by Fr. Pat Madden is available on our diocesan website (www.dioshpt.org) and Facebook page (Diocese of Shreveport). It is designed for catechists, for lectors and other liturgical ministers, for deacons, and for any Catholic who wants to learn a little bit more about this great spiritual treasure of our faith. Why not spend the four weeks of Advent becoming more familiar with the Gospel of Matthew?

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