We had our first live lecture with Father Echert today. Very nice. Since it was the first official "lecture," the leader introduced him. I had no idea all of the things this priest is involved in!! Wow, Father, I'm impressed on so many levels.
The study is on the Gospel of St. Matthew, from Catholic Scripture Studies, written by Scott Hahn and Mark Shea. Lectures by Father Echert.
Just wanted to share a few items I got out of the study today. You might already know some of this, but there are a few things I had never really thought about. Here are the highlights:
When you open up the Gospel of St. Matthew and begin reading, the first chapter is a genealogy of Jesus' line up to Abraham. It doesn't seem too interesting to read a bunch of names (even for someone like me who is very interested in genealogy) and you want to skip over it since it seems kind of irrelevant. But, there are reasons it is included.
The only other genealogy is in the Gospel of St. Luke. Matthew takes his genealogy of Jesus back to Abraham, whereas Luke goes all the way back to Adam. Reason for this is that Matthew is writing to Jews or Jewish Christians and Luke is focusing more on the Gentiles. The Jewish people would've been interested in Jesus' connection to Abraham and David, while the Gentiles would rather go all the way back to Adam, father of all the human race. Matthew stays true to his roots and writes his gospel in Hebrew or Aramaic, cites the OT a great deal since it is his background and also because he is trying to show the Jews that Jesus is the fulfillment of the OT.
The genealogy shows that Jesus had Gentile blood lines.
Four women are mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba. These women, as Father Echert said, are preparing the way for the reader to accept Mary, who is of very humble beginnings. Part of the reason the Jews failed to accept Jesus is they were expecting a great King, like David or Solomon, and didn't expect a humble son of a lowly carpenter to be the Messiah. Mentioning the women, outcasts and sinners, tries to temper the resistance Matthew anticipates about the Jews accepting Mary as the Mother of God. All of the women became part of the royal line of Jesus. And, typically, the noted lineage was through the man's line since women were pretty much chattel back then and had no rights of inheritance, etc. To mention a woman in a lineage is a huge departure from the norm.
Joseph wanted to quietly divorce Mary, as Father said, not because of Joseph's belief that she had done anything wrong or been unfaithful, but because he realized the enormity of what was being asked of him and how he was unworthy to stand in the presence of God (Jesus). It wasn't until the angel appeared to him in a dream, that Joseph learned that God had called him to be the step-father of Jesus and wanted him to care for Mary and Jesus. (Providing an example of how we are to come before Jesus in the sacraments!).
And, finally, the point I wish Father had more time to discuss since it wasn't until recently that I realized this is why some Protestants believe Jesus had brothers, etc., is that in Matthew 1:25 it uses the word "until," creating some misunderstanding. Joseph "knew her not until she had borne a son." As we learned, the word "until" doesn't imply a change in condition. It doesn't mean that once Mary gave birth to Jesus, she and Joseph had normal marital relations. "Until" doesn't imply anything afterwards and can mean "eternity" or "forever." As in 1 Corinthians 15:25, "Christ must reign until God has put all enemies under his feet." We all know "until" in this case doesn't change anything because Jesus reigns now and forever. "Until" doesn't speak to a particular time or event. Father gave an even better example in class, but I can't remember it. Darn!
That's a summary of our first lecture. Funny how 25 verses of boring genealogy could contain so much behind the scenes.
Stay tuned for next week...
I need some serious mid-week input from you...
4 hours ago