Thursday, October 21, 2010

Praying with Saint Matthew's Gospel

Here's a book I bought with my very own money. And it has been justifying my choice ever since it showed up.

Magnificat gives us a line by line meditation on Saint Matthew's Gospel that I have found to be thought provoking and fruitful. In a sense it is like a directed form of lectio divina. Twenty-four different authors each take different sections of the gospel and provide commentary that often takes me in a direction I never considered before. If you are a regular subscriber to Magnificat as I am, then many of the authors will be familiar. What is less familiar though is the in-depth coverage of the Gospel. The Gospel and commentaries are divided up so that they cover every calendar day of the year.

Rather than try to describe it, I am going to excerpt below, one that grabbed my attention and has had me thinking about it ever since. This should give you a pretty good idea of the sort of eye-openingness I'm talking about.

October 17
Christ's Recognition of Us as His Own
Michele M. Schumacher

"Then [those on his left] will answer and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?'"
(Mt 25:44)

It is not our vision that is called into question here: our willingness, or our capacity, to see Christ in "the least" of his brothers. After all, those who are judged righteous and invited to enter the kingdom did not recognize the Lord in his "least brothers" any more than did those judged unrighteous. Indeed, the question posed by the unrighteous in this verse is almost an echo of the questions posed by the righteous: "When did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you in prison, and visit you?" (Mt 25:37-39). We might therefore conclude that the final judgment does not concern our recognition of Christ, especially as he is hidden in the persons of his "least brothers" (v. 40). It  concerns, rather, Christ's recognition of us as those who attended (or not) to him.

We are judged, in other words, according to whether or not the Lord recognizes us as having ministered to him in the "least ones" (v. 45) with whom he identifies. Perhaps more profoundly still, it concerns Christ's recognition of himself as serving in and through us. As such, it is a question of our having granted him the possibility of using us to minister to the "least" of his brothers and sisters. Christ does not merely judge us, therefore, for having served him (in others) or for having failed to serve him. He judges us most especially by allowing him (or not) to accomplish the Father's will in the very works of mercy that he has given us to do in his name.


  1. I just saw this in their catalog and was wondering if it would be good; sounds like it is! The St. Paul one also sounds fantastic. Thanks for sharing this!

  2. Actually, based on the strength of this, I went ahead and bought the Paul one also. It is good as well. Gentler "aha" moments but very good.