Matthew 21:1-11  (Liturgy of Palms)                         

All in a week’s work. Matthew’s Day One: Jesus enters Jerusalem (21:1-9); cleanses the Temple (21:10-16); leaves Jerusalem (21:17). Day Two: Jesus curses the fig tree and it dies (21:18-22); Jesus questioned about authority (21:23-27); tells three parables (21:28-22:14); responds to political and theological questions (22:15-46); judgment discourse (23:1-25:46). Day Three: Jesus’ death plotted (26:1-5); anointing in Bethany (26:6-13); Betrayal by Judas (26:14-16). Day Four: Preparation, last supper, arrest, trial before Sanhedrin, Peter’s denial (26:17-75). Day Five (Friday): Trial before Pilate, crucifixion, burial (27:1-61). Day Six: The guard at the tomb (27:62-66). Day Seven: Discovery of empty tomb, appearances, Great Commission (28:1-20).


Recall moments when you’ve come upon a public commotion and wondered, "what is this about?" "Who is this?" Some of that emotion and confusion is mixed into the entry into Jerusalem—lots of questions being asked about who is riding into town.

When the crowds cry "Hosanna to the Son of David!" and "This is the prophet," they use the right words, but they still miss the point. They have all of the notes and none of the music. They have the theology straight, but they will still end up rejecting Jesus and calling for his death (27:20-23). Matthew is striking a familiar note: Knowing the truth is not the same thing as doing the truth (7:21). What one social psychologist said of university students is also true of the kingdom: "It is possible to make an A+ in the ethics course and still flunk life."


Please see the homily for this Sunday.


Matthew 26 and 27  (Liturgy of Passion)                 

Passion = intense emotion? Matthew 26 and 27 is referred to as the "passion" part of the gospel narrative. A logical assumption might be that "passion" refers to the intense emotion that occur during this fateful week. But the word has more to do with the word inactivity, passivity. As one commentator points out,

. . . Jesus does not act but is acted upon. He does not "die," but is killed, does not "rise" but is raised. In the suffering and death of the Son of Man, human beings are the actors on the surface of the narrative, and God is the hidden actor behind the scenes; in the resurrection, God alone is the actor.

Matthew emphasizes four themes that has occurred throughout his gospel: 1) prophetic knowledge of Jesus; 2) his dominance over the events of the passion; 3) his status as Son of God, Son of Man, Messiah, and King; 3) his fulfillment of messianic prophecy.


The Last Supper - the eucharist contains meaning not always captured by words. Anamnesis says that the past is not really the past also the present to those who "remember" as participant observers.

The Passover context that Matthew underscores already points to the eucharistic meal as a way to remember the liberating act of God. The meal points backward to the death of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins, and to the life of Jesus in which he provided fellowship meals (cf. 9:10-13; 11:19; 26:6-13).

The Passover meal point forward to its fulfillment in the kingdom of God. The fulfillment is nothing short of the messianic banquet, but it also points from Jesus’ time to the time of the ekklesia which also celebrates the messianic banquet every time bread is broken in remembrance of Christ. ]

The meal points inward as a call to self-examination on the part of the participants. As other gospel writers and Paul, Matthew evokes the response of self-examination.

The meal further points upward to the heavenly realm where the risen and exalted Christ is enthroned. The symbols of body and blood of Jesus now point beyond themselves to the transcendent realm. Matthew alone preserves the enigmatic words "This is my body" and "This is my blood;" without explaining how they are to be understood.

Finally, the meal points outward to the whole church and to the world. While pauline theology and Luke’s version are more explicit, still Matthew includes concern for others in the eucharistic overtones of the account of the feeding of the five thousand: "You [disciples’ give them [the outsider crowds] to eat" (14:16).

Please see the homily "Never Said a Mumblin’ Word" (for Christ the King Sunday)

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