February 14, 2013
Dear brothers and sisters,
I am taking the good news today from Matthew 7:28-29.
When Jesus finished these words, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.
When I started to write these reflections I used the daily gospel readings. After a year had circled around I decided to go back to Matthew and fill in the gaps left by weekend readings, times that I had been out of town, and verses that are not included in the readings through the year. I decided to leave these two verses for the last. I can’t recall now exactly why.
Chapter 7 is the conclusion a series of teachings that began with the sermon on the mount in chapter 5 and finishes with these: judging others, pearls before swine, the answer to prayers, the golden rule, the narrow gate, false prophets, the true disciple, and the two foundations of which one was built on rock and the other on sand. It was these teachings that astonished the crowds who listened.
I have heard and read the gospel of Matthew over the years, but I, too, have been astonished as I have reflected on just a few verses at a time trying to discern Jesus’ teaching for me each day. Barclay comments on this passage, “Knowledge must become action; theory must become practice; theology must become life.” That’s what Matthew’s gospel has been leading me to and why instinctively I saved these verses for last.
I am called to do more than know, although action springs from knowledge. When I started these reflections it was to answer a question in my mind that wouldn’t go away. Who was this man Jesus? What has happened over the past year and a half is that I have come to know him on a personal level. Now I am no longer astonished at his wisdom and his vision for God’s kingdom. Now he is prodding me to action, to do something about what I now know, what he has been teaching me with the full authority of God the Father. Now I am ready to reply to God as Isaiah did, “Here I am, send me.”