THE CHURCH’S FOCUS FOR NEXT YEAR: the gospel according to Saint Matthew.
Today is the first Sunday of Advent — from the Church’s viewpoint it’s the first Sunday of a new year.
For the last 12 months, the gospel readings for Mass have mostly come from Saint Luke’s gospel.
Now, for 12 months, they’ll come mostly from Saint Matthew’s gospel.
Interestingly, Matthew is probably the gospel least compatible with the “discernment-type” belief-system of Pope Francis.
Matthew’s first 2 chapters describe Jesus’ family tree, his birth and the 3 wise men visiting.
Then comes John the Baptist, his predecessor-prophet, with the message: “Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.”
Soon after that John is arrested – and that’s when Jesus starts his own public teaching ministry.
His theme? “Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.”
But there’s a difference.
Jesus makes it clear that his message is to be even tougher than previous prophets.
More demanding in at least 6 areas.
They are spelt out in Matthew’s gospel chapter 5 (from verses 21 to 48).