Miracles take a little longer, so they say!? There is no doubt that I am happy to be with you all, yet again – and we start with this year of The Winged Man which is the most used symbol for the evangelist, Matthew. This man represents the Incarnation of Christ. Matthew was a Jew writing his version of the Gospel primarily for Jewish readers. His focus is to clearly establish the man Jesus Christ as the promised and much longed for Messiah. Jesus was indeed the Christ of God.

Notice how Matthew’s record commences by tracing the ancestry of Jesus – “son of David, son of Abraham” and the introduction ends with the words “from the deportation until the Messiah”

(verse 17). He then, immediately, continues by telling us that “this is the story of the birth of the Messiah.”

This is the motivation of the scriptural text appearing on our Cover. Jesus, the Word of God made flesh. He came to live with us. This is what Matthew wants us to see through his version of the Gospel. We must make an effort to keep these basics in mind all through this year of reflection.

So it is good for us to note the last sentence of

THIS SUNDAY’S GOSPEL [JOHN 1: 29 – 34] which proclaims “and I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.” It is almost as if Matthew, not the Baptist, could have proclaimed this himself. However, this Son of God is the Father’s SERVANT – a fact borne out by both TODAY’S PSALM [40 or 39]and our reading from THE OLD TESTAMENT [ISAIAH 49: 3. 5 – 6]. The response to the Psalm proclaims “see, I have come, Lord, to do your will.” Then, the prophet tells us that “you are my servant … in whom I will be glorified.” The servant does his master’s will, carries out his orders and commands. The Psalm says this clearly when it proclaims “I delight to do your will … your instruction lies deep within me.”Over and over again, as we travel through Matthew’s account of Jesus’ life and ministry, we become aware that the Evangelist records repeated references to the Old Testament in general and the prophets in particular. {In this context note words from today’s Psalm: –“in the scroll of the book it stands written of me.”} He is at pains to establish for his Jewish readers that this man is the one sent by God to be the Messiah who is, indeed, a Suffering Servant. In Matthew’s account we will regularly see Jesus himself referring to the fact that he has come to do his Father’s will.

Matthew wants his readers to both recognise and accept that Jesus Christ has been sent by the Father, as Messiah, and there should be no doubt that he IS the fulfilment of all the prophets and the hopes of Israel

. It is fact that the People of God can really be called, together again, to be sanctified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. {see OUR NEW TESTAMENT EXTRACT – 1 CORINTHIANS 1: 1 – 3}

The challenge for us is to ask whether we ourselves both accept and believe in faith that the Lord Jesus was sent by the Father? Sent with a specific mission and ministry to be, do and achievesomething special for us in our own time and space? Am I able to ‘see’ and bear witness that Jesus is the Son of God?

Jesus, Son of God! The Winged Man! The Incarnate Word of God!

HUMAN AND DIVINE. This explains why (as emphasised in the opening paragraphs of this week’s reflection) Matthew records the human ancestry of Jesus (placing him squarely within the reality of Israel’s history) and ending with the words “this is the story of the birth of the Messiah.”

Jesus, the Christ, enjoyed both a human and divine ancestry. He was of God and of mankind

. He had to be otherwise he could not have been recognised by John the Baptist as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.” {as recorded in today’s Gospel.} The reference to Lamb of God is of paramount importance because it looks back to the time of the Exodus when the lambs were sacrificed, the blood splashed on the doorposts of the Hebrews, the angel of God passed over these, and the people were led out of slavery. Surely, as our Psalm announces, “the Lord … stooped down?”In the person of Jesus the Lord, again, stooped down to men and women and by doing so enables us to be led away from our slavery to sin – “see, I have come” our Psalm proclaims. This is precisely what Matthew wishes his readers to accept and believe.

Finally, in our own time, we have to recognise that each one of us enjoys a human and divine ancestry. I am of the world and born to and for it. At the same time I am of God, born to and for him. As Isaiah tells us this Sunday, my God “formed me from the womb – has become my strength.”However, like Jesus, as our Psalm teaches, I am his servant!

 

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