Gospel of Matthew
By Rev James Flanagan, SOLT
Founder of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity
Everything today leads us to think that there are new forms of spirituality taking place in contemporary society and in the Church. This is due to the rapid evolution of our society that has brought about profound changes in the consciousness that each one of us has of his own mystery and of his own destiny that sweeps him along in the universe that surrounds him. A spirit of response is needed. This fundamental consciousness constitutes a starting point and an elementary center that develops into a coherent and solid spirituality under the radiance of a lively faith.
Changes in this fundamental consciousness calls forth changes in the spirituality of the people of God. The manner in which faith penetrates and transforms our human lives depends in turn on our awareness of the Gospel that is preached to us. For it is to the Gospel that we are called and to which we must bear witness and to where we must return. The Gospel is the Norm and Test of all spirituality in the Church. But, misinterpretation of the Gospel and very literalism have spawned heresies and Protestant fundamentalism, which produce a caricature of healthy spirituality.
Evidence today is that there are many new persons who are showing for the first time a desire for a true spirituality. It is not only among those who are committed and dedicated in their earnest witness of their faith who find themselves drawn to spiritual challenges, but also those we never suspected who are searching for a true expression of their spirit. Spirituality then is no longer just an ornament among all Christians and all peoples. We owe this new hunger to the Gospel and not to the schools or centers of spirituality.
It is one thing to suspect the existence of a new spirituality and another to trace its shape. For one thing, it is difficult to discern among the tendencies of movements, those that are just on the surface and those that are deep enough to provide a lasting basis for a new generation. In spirituality, as in other things, there are styles, catch words, and slogans, and yet a few years later these trends are cast aside as quickly as they have previously been acclaimed. These short-lived enthusiasms are certainly not to be thrown aside but they don't have the strength to continue down through the centuries.
When we speak of spirituality, we refer to a living synthesis of our human life experience with the Gospel. Spirituality is real when it structures the person in faith according to gifts, vocation and destiny. There are many spiritualities which are very rich and varied. Sometimes they come together and the result is a synthesis of several spiritualities.
We have already mentioned that the desire for spirituality has increased at this particular time. People are really coming to find the true source and meaning of their faith from the Word of God and to enter or reenter that faith life again. They want to bring to life the Gospel as it was first taught by Christ and is still being taught by Him today.
Spirituality is by no means a luxury but rather a normal development of a mature and living faith, as St. Paul tells us in the first epistle to the Corinthians. This fact is more remarkable when we see in our apostolate that the meaning of our work is found in the Gospels and we feel that there is a true interpretation of God's Word for our own generation. We, in Our Lady's Society, feel that this is if for us discipleship and that our experience of the discipleship and interpreting the message of the Gospels in discipleship has been purified by many activities during the last 40 years. The trials of faith, the unexpected graces, the different witnesses of ecclesial serving and ecclesial teams, all of these have little by little brought us to that wisdom of God which opens us to the awareness of a new witness of the Spirit guiding us and teaching us discipleship through living Gospel experiences.
More and more we find in our present time that spiritual theology is very close to pastoral theology. However, we don't want to be premature in our enthusiasm but rather want to live out the spirituality of discipleship in order to attain its spiritual wisdom which is not something that comes immediately. We have a desire to enter into the fuller experience from discipleship of Mary, to discipleship of Christ, and finally to union with the Triune God; for it is by deepening and interiorizing our discipleship that we will come into union with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We have to keep a very deep balance in the spirituality so that we don't simply put aside all commitments to the serving of the people of God in our own lives. The spiritual life should not prevent us from incardinating ourselves in action, witnessing, transforming society and fighting for justice. Indeed, it should strengthen us in these works of Our Father. It is important that both the spiritual and active life be present in us as there is the danger of going too far one way or the other. The spirit of the Gospels teaches us that we have to be very careful that we don't emphasize one to the exclusion of the other. We want to, therefore, consider our spirituality in three ways: first, in the person who lives the spirituality of discipleship; second, in the discipleship that it gives to us in the Gospels; and third, in the Church and its special relationship to the spirituality of discipleship that God has brought us to.
The spirituality of discipleship which we are striving to bring to the Church again is a spirituality which offers a way to really give ourselves to God, to bring forth an order in our daily lives so that our relationship with the Lord can come to its full measure in the maturity that Our Father wills. We are not simply speaking of a coloring of our actions with a spiritual purpose and missing the real meaning of these actions, rather they should be penetrated with the Holy Spirit from the beginning to the end. We don't want to have vague mental advertence to God at intervals in our duties and daily responsibilities and vital concerns, but our true spirituality is present precisely because the destiny of our own minds has seized upon and enlarged upon a participating in the mystery of God Himself, as Mary did, especially for ourselves and all who will, in the Trinity. We thank Jesus and the Holy Spirit for having given us this Marian Trinitarian spirituality.
The language which God speaks to man and man to God, is not primarily words but rather the life experiences of everyday. The choices that we have to make in our actions, in our loves, in our fears, in our joys, and in our sufferings spell out the destiny which God actually has for us; and this becomes the language of our spirituality. Jesus and Mary, in the mystery of His Incarnation, which is an integral part of our spirituality, have shown us not only the life of man into Christ but the life of Christ into man. Therefore, no less than the fullness of the life of Christ Himself must be present in our spirituality. He must be deciphered and be The Way in which we come to hear the voice of God. He opens us to the Word of God and all that God has revealed of Himself. Thus we come through Him in our spirituality of discipleship into the mystery of the Trinity.
There is need today of a spirituality which can answer the questions of life, the dignity of persons, the reconciliation of man with man, of man and his creation, man and himself, man and his God and the need for an openness and understanding in relationships and of oneness. Likewise, the question of the Kingdom of God in relationship to the development of humanity found in mission, the relationship of history to salvation history, of the secularization of society and the disappearance of the religious sense among the masses of people. We also see many people who don't really know Christ and yet are trying to live by the principles which Christ has given to us. We need a spirituality that is going to reach the very heart of man. We need at present the witness of a people with a living faith that reaches to a living God.
The second consideration is in the Gospels. It is enlightening for us to study the faith that was living in the primitive Church. We may as well look over the history and the forms of the spiritualities that expressed that faith. In these we become convinced that the Gospels have always been in the last analysis the proof and special manifestation of true spirituality. To refuse to recognize this and what it stands for would be to open ourselves to ridicule and confusion and, at the same time to prove that one has not the least idea of what an authentic spiritual life is. History teaches us that the most arduous task for us in our own spirituality and as well, in all times, has been and is to distinguish between true and false experience. There is no area more difficult to handle. The dangers of spiritual pleasure seeking in religious asceticism, or uncontrolled subjectivism have not always been too different from certain worldly ways of satisfying ourselves. To eliminate the need for discerning by merely suppressing the subject is not a solution. We must be resigned to the fact that this spiritual renewal is full of risks and one must make up one's mind that in a world full of risks the true spirituality of the Gospel thrives.
Today under the impulse of the Holy Spirit in discipleship, we have devoted ourselves to a continuation of the Gospel. We have come to the discovery that the treasures of the Church are a living tradition which have more insights, more resources, and more help that is needed to face and to bring the victories of Christ and the victories of our faith in the world that is taking shape around us.
Our spirituality had sprung from the presence of an irresistible need, a pressure that seeks a true spirituality in order to survive. We have come to two basic areas in that spirituality: Liturgy and Scripture. Our Lady, as the perfect disciple of the Lord Jesus, lived by both. These sources teach us how good the Lord is and how good is His Word. How lovely are the feet of those who worship the Lord in Spirit and in Truth and who live out their lives in that spiritual experience of being lifted by faith and conversion to the fullness of a true worship and love of God. The Gospel manifests in every dimension all that is needed in our life of discipleship; as, for example, the Beatitudes which are based on a conviction and certitude of a real poverty, a real simplicity and a true intention of giving us a freedom in our relationship with our Father and a filial intimacy with the Lord Himself. For in living them, the fruits of the Spirit flow forth from the very heart of Jesus.
Our communion in the Spirit of Christ brings us to that tremendous challenge to be holy as the Lord our God is holy. This is the Good News, the proclamation of true joy, the reaching to the salvation which God has wrought for us. It enables us to live our lives in the work of the Kingdom, and become like Christ in our daily lives, sensitive to the calls which God has given to us, especially the call to discipleship in its radical living of the Gospels, to the meekness and humility of the heart of Christ and to the fullness of peace in the midst of a world filled with terrible threats of war. We are called to witness the fullness of the heart, soul, mind, strength and Spirit of Christ.
The truth of our spirituality will be demonstrated in its capacity to transform those who are living it. This transformation is essentially a metanoia, a change of heart which brings them to be able to ask: "What has changed when one becomes a disciple? Those who ask this question want to witness a change in our way of life, in our actions, in the way we live and in our reaching out to the needs of others.
Persons have a right to expect that if we are disciples of the Lord and of Our Lady that we have become living signs. The condition for this is certainly a long hard work at oneself which empowers a disciple of Jesus and Mary to truly witness that Jesus has come and made all things new. It is not enough to take just one aspect of the Gospel, but we must take the fullness of that discipleship as Jesus reveals it in the Gospels. This is what we must live in order to bring forth the fruitfulness which Jesus has placed there.
When I went to Rome it was indicated to me that there are at least 100 new groups in the Church asking for various expressions of approval from the Holy See. There are new Secular Institutes and in between them can be found all sorts of associations and movements like the Focalarini, laymen who work at jobs and live in community; these are encouraged and simple approved. This is a deep current that is present. Rome, itself, it very interested in this development. There are expressions of new dimensions of man's solidarity, the interweaving of lives, and the necessity of working in teams. All of these are consciously felt and are indications of strength proper to man in our day. They tend to influence the form of spiritual life that we ourselves in the Society of Our Lady have seen in emptying ourselves, yet forming relationship with all of the vocations. In past centuries, this proliferation of movements has not been present.
The interdependence of persons in various vocations has never been so complex and widespread; and yet, that is what we are asking the Church to approve. This is a lived realization and it is a part of our revival of the communio koinonia values of Christianity as was found in the early Church. Suddenly we have become aware that we can give new values to the Church and those values are which Jesus has placed there in discipleship. The present day spirit has also brought forth, as the Society shows, a renewed interest in the teaching of the Mystical Body of Christ. When we see the various vocations working together in ecclesial teams, we see the functioning of the whole body of Christ and the witness of the Church very present.
The whole Church is again showing a keen sensitivity toward her very essence: a communion in Christ, a presence to the Father and a receptivity in the Spirit. The entire Church is becoming sensitive to the ways that this mystery of the Trinity is actually being manifested in all creation.
My hope is that through the Spiritual Directory of Our Lady's Society we may become aware of the realization of certain values in the Gospels and the Church concerning discipleship. These were actually incarnated in the early Church and we must again render them tangible in the Church today in order that in living them we may bring forth the fullness of the community of the Trinity made visible. We have in the Society, as you know, a shared life which is modest but very real. We have a fraternal communion which bases itself on graced friendship and a prayer life which actually is the very prayer life of Christ Himself. These are vital links by which we come to be a true society in the Church.
Another witness of the Gospels is community made visible in the mission of the world, to other Christians, and to those that know nothing of this Church. We put ourselves in teams and ready ourselves with spiritual values and different gifts to actually bring forth a Trinitarian Marian witness. This witness embraces a living faith dialogue with each other on our teams, mutual correction of one another in the practice of our vocation, and an examination of the path that we trace in such a way that we become aware of the true discipleship which we are called to live. We find that it is a spirituality which witnesses the greatness of relationship and oneness with God and which He desires to have with us.
Many times in our own particular work we have an awareness of the atheism which surrounds us today and which is establishing its errors in the work and roots of contemporary life. We do not isolate ourselves from it, but rather, firmly convinced, we unite together and reach out to our brothers and sisters who are caught in deception so that they can see that it is good for us to live together in Christ. Seeing this unanimity and fidelity to the discipleship in the Gospels, they realize that the Lord can draw all to Himself, for He says, "And I - once I am lifted up from the earth-will draw all men to myself." John 12:32.
We are aware also that there are many trials that lie in wait for us at one time or another; that there are afflictions and weariness, questions and rejections. We need others to become real witnesses to the Lord. As brothers and sisters in community we can easily come to support each other, because we know that perhaps tomorrow we may be the ones that will need that support. We want to have a faithful and true manifestation of the Church and loving obedience to the hierarchy. There is, however, a danger in our littleness that we could go off and find ourselves in communities of little teams that really don't reach to the Church, but simply give a security for our own needs.
We must, therefore, realize that in our ecclesial teams we are actualizing the mystery of the Church without reducing it to shreds or over burdening it. We want to be of service to the Church and we truly consider it a privilege to serve whole heatedly in the universal communion of God's people as the Body of Christ.
We want to be sure that the Society is freed from the temptation of closing in on itself. Rather, we pray that the fullness of the life of Jesus Himself will be opened out as the early Church was opened out to the then known world. We are open to the whole of the world and the universe in the name of a spirituality that is truly faithful to the Holy Spirit Himself in His work of the Church now and in the future.
Love of the Church should certainly be characteristic of our spirituality of discipleship as it is with Jesus and Mary. Therefore, in our discipleship we strive for this mark. We simply say of ourselves, in the words of St. Paul, "Do not extinguish the Spirit. Do not undervalue the gift of prophesy. Test everything and what is good, keep." This manifests the spirit of discipleship that is found in the Gospels and lived once again in the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Down through the centuries whenever there has been a need for a new thrust in the history of man, in the life of the Church, in the work of the Kingdom and in all other realities, Our Heavenly Father has given us Christ. In His divine plan for the salvation, redemption, and sanctification of mankind, the Father has brought forth from His spiritual gifts the fruitfulness He has given to us through Christ. He has always followed the same pattern. He has chosen great saints to illuminate for us certain mysteries of Jesus' life.
The prayer and labor of Jesus were exemplified in the life of St. Benedict, in the 6th century. He saw the conditions of Rome, saw the futility of trying to change them, and went up to a cave in Subiaco. In the mountains just outside of Rome he built up the Benedictine monastic community. His sister, St. Scholastica, began a community of women, similarly dedicated to prayer and the sanctification of even the simplest manual labor. He then infused the monastic life back into the Church and everything in the Christian world, through this spiritual transfusion, became Benedictine: the art, the music, the literature, and the culture. Sts. Francis and Clare did the same in the 13th century when the Church was being choked with riches. With the poverty of Jesus, Francis and Clare brought the necessary transfusion to the Church spiritually so that Christ could continue the work of the Father in fulfilling the destiny that He had given to the Church. St. Ignatius Loyola used the holy name of Jesus when he wanted to stem the tide of the so-called Protestant Reformation. St. Dominic used the preaching of Our Lord to stem heresy. St. Alphonsus Liguori shared the redemption of Our Lord to bring forth a renewal of faith in the 18th century. Each one of the saints brought the fruitfulness of some aspect of the life of Our Lord Jesus Christ vividly before the eyes of men. These saints moved the world, transformed it by the power of Christ.
In the present day, the Paschal Mystery of Jesus is the aspect which our Father desires us to live and wants to be released to meet the needs of the people of today: the birth, life, and sufferings, the death and burial, the resurrection and the ascension of the Lord Jesus is the fruit which the Father desires to share with us so that we may be His people and He may be our God, and that He may heal us.
As disciples beginning our study of St. Matthew's gospel, we see ourselves as the anawim of the Lord. In the gospel Jesus teaches us the spirit of anawah, a humble sense of human powerlessness. St. Matthew's gospel speaks of this when Jesus says, "Without me, you can do nothing." Mingled with this is a strong spirit of trusting God, "With me, you can do all things." There is always found in the spirit of anawah a sense of readiness to serve. "I am among you", Jesus says, "as one who serves." There is likewise a patience in waiting and becoming like a little child in order that we may enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
Raised up by divine vocation from the midst of the people of God are various ministries that are to be lived out in the spirit of anawah. They are to be carefully fostered and cultivated by all: disciples who are priests, deacons, religious and laity. By their prayers and by their active works, they all play an indispensable role in the rooting, strengthening and expanding, of the Kingdom of Christ. As disciples, our friendship with God is so sure of His love that we become very fearless and courageous; we lay bare our souls before Him, certain that He will understand whatever misery, whatever trials and whatever sufferings drain our strength. Yet we are always sustained by one thought, that God is our friend and that He will not abandon us. Time and again as disciples, we are stripped of human support. We feel powerlessness in our creature- hood, we taste anguish within our suffering and oppression, we are cut off from friendship and many times cruelly treated. We taste all of the weaknesses of life and yet in all of this we are to have a complete trust in God.
As we enter into our discipleship and come to the mystery of the Church, we see the very foundation which our Lord has placed in His Church. By our preaching of the goodness of our Father, we come into the work of the Kingdom, which for centuries had been promised in the Scriptures. Jesus tells us Himself, "Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand." In Christ's words, in His works, and in His presence, the Kingdom reveals itself to men. This is our work as disciples; to bring and continue down through the centuries of time the fruitfulness of His words, His works and His presence, for the coming of the Kingdom.
His words are like the seed which is sown in a field and those who hear this Word with faith become part of His flock. By its own power, this seed of the Word sprouts and ripens until the harvest time when Jesus will send harvesters into the vineyard to gather its fruits into His Kingdom. As disciples, our lives witness His Word.
The miracles of Jesus also confirm that the Kingdom of God has already come upon this earth. As disciples, we work miracles in Jesus' name and cast out devils by the power of God. Thus, the Kingdom of God is manifested by us to the people of God.
Before all else, however, for us as disciples, the Kingdom is clearly visible in the very person of Jesus, Who is God and man and Who came to serve and to give His life as a ransom for the many. This spirit of service and this spirit of living for the ransom of many, as well as living for God, is the spirit which the disciples must have. It flows from the spirituality of discipleship as found in the gospel of St. Matthew.
We see the budding-forth of that Kingdom and the growth of that Kingdom in the Church. We see that Kingdom moving with all its strength, hopes and desires to be united in glory with its King. Jesus came on mission from His Father and it was in Him before the foundation of the world that our Father chose us as disciples. He predestined us to become His adopted sons and daughters. For in Him it has pleased our Father to reestablish all things in Christ to carry out the will of the Father. Disciples have to continue the work which Jesus inaugurated; the work of the coming of the Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. The mystery of the Father is revealed to us in the Son. Jesus' obedience to the Father has brought about our redemption, the Church, and the Kingdom. Now present in mystery, they grow visible in the world through God's power. Christ Himself obeyed even at the cost of death and was therefore raised up by the Father. Thus He entered into the glory of His Kingdom and now to Him all things are to be made subject, that God our Father may be all in all. It is our work as disciples to continue what Christ has thus begun.
This spiritual pattern Christ has communicated and this power of subjection He has given to His disciples so that they might be established in the royal freedom that by self-denial and a holy life, grace might conquer sinful tendencies. He has thus shared this power so that by serving Him and our fellow men we might lead our brothers and sisters to the King, whom to serve is to reign. As our high priest, Christ has taken us from among men and made of us a priestly Kingdom. As baptized in the regeneration and anointing of the Holy Spirit, we are consecrated into a spiritual house, into a holy priesthood.
As people of God, through all works befitted us in our discipleship, we can offer spiritual sacrifices and proclaim the power of Him who has called us out of darkness into His own marvelous light. Therefore, as disciples of the Lord Jesus, we must persevere in prayer and praise of God in living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to Him.
Everywhere we must bear witness to the Lord Jesus and show to men that hope of eternal life which is in us. The Lord wishes us to spread His Kingdom as priests, deacons, religious and laity in the ecclesial teams of Our Lady's Society. This is a Kingdom of truth and life, a Kingdom of holiness and grace, a Kingdom of justice, of peace, and of love. In this Kingdom, creation itself will be delivered out of its slavery to corruption and into the freedom of the glory of the sons and daughters of God.
Clearly then this is a great promise -- a great mandate that is given and committed to the disciples of Jesus and Mary. For all is ours and we are all in Christ, and Christ is God's and God is all in all.
Discipleship of Mary, and discipleship of Jesus in union with the Father and the Holy Spirit are the patterns of spirituality that we will speak to as we study the four gospels concerning the spirituality of discipleship.
Let us begin in the third chapter of St. Matthew’s gospel, 1317th verses”
THE WITNESS OF OUR FATHER AND THE HOLY SPIRIT
Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. John was for hindering Him and said, “ It is me who ought to be baptized by you and do you come to me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Let it be so for now, for it becomes us to fulfill all justice.” Then He permitted him and when Jesus had been baptized, He, immediately came up from the water and behold the heavens were opened to Him and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and coming upon Him, and behold a voice from Heaven said, “This is my beloved
Son in whom I am well pleased.”
In this scripture, we see God our Father witnessing His oneness and providential care of Jesus. We see Him being the first to witness to the divinity of Jesus. We see Him witnessing His love of Jesus in the words He speaks, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased."
It is the work of disciples of Jesus and Mary in our relationship as sons and daughters of our Father, to freely witness in this same way. First we turn to our Father for His paternal love and care. As disciples of Jesus and Mary, we are His own. We witness the divinity of Jesus as our Father Himself witnessed it by the living of our baptism. Lastly, we strive to please our Father as Jesus, His beloved Son, and Mary, His beloved daughter did.
CALL OF THE FIRST DISCIPLES: This calling is found in Mt: 4:18-22.
As He was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter and his brother, Andrew, casting a net into the sea. He said to them, “Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left the nets and followed Him and going further on He saw two other brothers, James, the son of
Zebedee and his brother John in a boat
with Zebedee, their father, mending their
nets and He called them and immediately
they left their nets and their father and
In this calling of the disciples is illustrated how the kingdom will be built up by Christ's will, that men are to be saved by other men. Here we see the calling of the first disciples; Peter and Andrew, James and John, who answered the call to be fishers of men. They were called into the work of the kingdom, which is union with Jesus and Mary through faith; and only through them can disciples receive such a grace. This is the first time we see the founding of the kingdom on earth.
Some of the spiritual lessons that flow from this calling of the disciples of Jesus and Mary are:
JESUS TEACHING TO HIS DISCIPLES: THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT
St. Matthew tells us beginning in the fifth chapter.
“...and when He was seated, His disciples
came to Him and opening His mouth He taught them.”
This teaching of Jesus to the disciples in the Sermon on the Mount is a blueprint for the disciples of Jesus and Mary. It teaches the Beatitudes, their vocation to the apostolate, the fulfillment of the law and the prophets. It teaches the moral life concerning the purity and unity of marriage; it teaches the spiritual life, the law of love, embracing good works, prayer, fasting and almsgiving; it teaches spiritual insight, a right choice of masters, a trust in God, so that in asking, seeking, and knocking disciples will come to live this blueprint as Jesus teaches. Jesus has delineated to the disciples a lived faith. To summarize what He says:
You are forgiven, but you must suffer. You
no longer belong to yourselves; you belong to your
Father and you must strive for His perfection. You belong to the Lord and you are to live in His kingdom. You are the light of the world which shines out in the darkness and salt of the earth.
The Son of Righteousness has risen over your life. You are redeemed and, out of your thankfulness, a new life is growing, a life of oneness with Me as I am one with Our Father.
The image and likeness of God in which we are created is what disciples strive to manifest. This image and likeness brings forth the fullness of knowing yourself as your Father knows Himself; of communicating yourself as the Father communicates His goodness; of bringing forth the gifts which your Father has given; of making your love visible as our Father has in sending His only Son; of setting goals and fulfilling them as your Father wills; of bringing forth the destiny and plan of your Father in being truly the community of the Trinity and of Our Lady as her relationship is to Himself, as daughter of the Father; to Jesus as mother of the Son; and as spouse of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus says in Matthew 5:47,
“You must be perfect as your Father
in heaven is perfect.”
This goal to which you as disciples of Jesus and Mary strive was won by Jesus as the fruit of His sacred passion. Your striving brings you to the oneness in which the Father knows Jesus and Jesus knows the Father and reveals the Father. For the Father, Son and Spirit know who He is, "I am who I am, is His name." Disciples likewise come to know themselves. This is the deepest reality in your image and likeness of God.
The second witness of your image and likeness of God is communication, for our Father communicates His goodness. This is found in Mt 6: 5-13:
Again, when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites, who love to pray standing in the synagogues and at the street corners in order that they may be seen by men. Amen I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and close your door and, pray to your Father in secret; and your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.
But in praying do not multiply words as the gentiles do; for they think that by saying a great deal they will be heard. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. In this manner, therefore, shall you pray: Our Father, who art in Heaven, hollowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
As disciples we communicate with our Father: May His name be sanctified, may His kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven; may His will be fulfilled in every way, may He give us our daily bread. May we forgive others their offenses, so that our Heavenly Father will forgive us. For if we do not forgive others then our Father will not forgive us. And may we be led not into the test but delivered from the evil one. This is our prayer as disciples. It is a prayer which Jesus taught when the disciples asked Jesus how to pray. This is the prayer which brings the disciples into all the needs of man to reach to the oneness that Jesus has with our Father.
Jesus speaks to us as disciples again in this oneness with the will of the Father as the goal of our spiritual life in discipleship:
“Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord”, shall enter into the Kingdom of heaven; but He who does the will of my Father in heaven shall enter into the kingdom of heaven. Many will say to me in that day ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out devils in your name, and work many miracles in your name,’ and then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me you workers of iniquity!’
“Everyone, therefore, who hears these words and acts upon them shall be likened to a wise man who built his house on rock, and the rain fell and the floods came and the winds blew and beat against that house, but it did not fall, because it was founded on rock. Everyone who hears these words and does not act upon them shall be likened to a foolish man who built his house on sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat against the house and it fell and was utterly ruined.”
These words from Mt 7:21-27, teach us as disciples of Jesus and Mary that we must live and fulfill in every way the will of our Father in heaven. This goal of the oneness that Jesus has with His Father is witnessed as He fulfills our Father's will perfectly.
We as disciples have this goal to live. We faithfully please our Father in all things as the way of fulfilling His Holy Will.
Again Jesus teaches us discipleship, for we are made in the image and likeness of the Lord. In coming into oneness with Jesus as he has come into oneness with our Father, we must make our love visible, for the love of the Father is a model for the love of the disciples even to the love of our enemies.
This is found in Mt 5: 43-47:
“You have heard it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy,’ but I say to you love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, pray for those who persecute and calumniate you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven who makes the sun to rise on the good and the evil, sends rain on the just and the unjust for if you love those you love you, what reward shall you have? Do not even the publicans do that and if you salute your brethren only, what are you doing more than the others? Do not even the Gentiles do that?...”
Jesus witnesses that we must make our love visible just as He manifested the fullness of that visible love between Himself and His Father in His becoming man, giving the complete gift of Himself to all, asking all to become like Him.
The gifts of the Father to us in discipleship in the image and likeness of God are also found in the Sermon on the Mount in Mt
6: 1-18. Here there are three very special gifts of our Father: The gift of almsgiving, the gift of prayer, and the gift of fasting. These are given to heal the breaking of relationships; His gift of prayer heals the breaking of relationship with God himself, His gift of fasting heals the brokenness that is found within ourselves, and His gift of almsgiving enables us to heal the wounds that are found in the breaking of relationships with each other.
Again Jesus shows us in discipleship the image and likeness of God in the plan of the Father in Mt 6:25-34:
“Therefore, I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, what you are to eat, nor for your body, what you are to put on. Is not the life a greater thing than the food, and the body than the clothing? Look at the birds of the earth, they do not sow, or reap, or gather into barns and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you of much more value than they? But which of you by being anxious about it can add to his stature a single cubit?”
“And as for your clothing, why are you anxious? Consider the lilies of the field, they neither toil nor spin and yet I say to you, not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothed the grass of the field that flourishes today but tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more you, you of little faith!”
“Therefore, do not be anxious, saying, ‘What are we to eat? What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to put on?’ For your Father knows that you need all of these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His justice, and all these things will be given you besides. Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow; for tomorrow will have anxieties of its own. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
This plan of the Father manifested to us by Jesus is a plan that puts the kingdom of God first in the life of disciples. We seek the kingdom in His justice, and then open ourself to the fullness of the providence of our Father in caring for us in all of the needs that we have.
First, through the gospel of St. Matthew, Jesus reveals the oneness that He has with the Father in many different ways. Jesus is revealed as Son of the Father in chapters 11, 15, 16, 18, 19, and 20. Again and again we see Jesus communicating Himself to us in His oneness with the Father and the Father communicating Himself to us through Jesus His Son, conferring upon Him power and authority to execute His mission. As we see this we recognize the oneness which Jesus desires with us for Himself that God may become all in all. Second, Jesus teaches us the summit of our Father's perfection in the Beatitudes:
"Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
In our hearts the image of temporal riches must find no entrance, nor must we be inclined to them. We love the created work of God's hands and yet detest all creation as it becomes a burden or hindrance to our love of God. We use all things in moderation insofar as they are helpful to divine love. This is the spirit that flows in the disciple concerning the first beatitude.
"Blessed are the meek for they shall possess the earth.”
Disciples are not to be excited or disturbed but rather to have control of all of their bodily powers and faculties. They are able to read hearts and to communicate in the fullness of the love which God witnesses every day. They bring all that God has given to them into peaceful subjection, as Jesus did when he went down to Nazareth and was subject to Mary and Joseph.
"Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted.”
As disciples, Jesus and Mary teach the value of tears --tears over the absence of God Who is the only and supreme good in our life of discipleship and tears as well for the sins that are committed against an all-loving God. There are many whom you will see living in sin and who give themselves to frivolity. Weep over their sins, and merit by your tears the blessing that our brothers and sisters may receive the consolation and the favor of God in His grace and friendship once again. We also must open ourself to see Mary as the cause of our joy and to delight in the treasures of grace which She showers upon us as her disciples. She desires to bring us to the very fullness of grace that She herself shares with Jesus.
"Blessed are they that hunger and thirst
after justice for they shall have their fill."
As disciples our hunger and thirst for justice must be greater than all those who set themselves against justice. When we come to live in the fullness of justice and sanctity we increase our desire for the blessedness of this gift for all. This increases in proportion to the streams of grace that flow from God's will. May the longing desires that we have for His peace and justice be fulfilled.
"Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy."
As the Mother and Father of mercies, Mary and Jesus work with the disciples toward the benefit and salvation of all men. Never deny in any way mercy to anyone who asks, nor cease to seek out and hasten in the relief of those who are needy and poor, offering to them assistance and not waiting until they come to us but reaching out to all of them.
"Blessed are the clean of heart for they shall see God."
Here the disciples of Jesus and Mary truly imitate Jesus as the Son of Justice and Mary who is most pure, chaste, inviolate, and undefiled. Into the hearts and minds of the disciples no defilement comes. They become like the sun which shines on all but is not contaminated in any way by the realities upon which it shines. Our thoughts and our sense of the presence of God must become so strong that it becomes impossible for our minds and hearts to be defiled with any impurity.
"Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall
be called the children of God."
Disciples of Jesus and Mary exercise this Beatitude as Sons and Daughters of God our Father. This is the Beatitude which preserves the blessing of peace of mind, heart, and spirit so that our faculties in times of trial, sufferings, and even death are accepted with peace in Christ.
"Blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice sake for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
As disciples we give the very gift of our life for the honor and glory of Christ our Lord. We imitate Him in the fullness of His Paschal Mystery and come to understand and to execute the law of Him who is our divine teacher. We understand the doctrines and the ends which He as master had in view when He gave to us the gospels, the precepts, the counsels, which bid us love our enemies, pardon injuries, do good works, and avoid hypocrisy. Beyond these are the counsels of perfection. We do not do away with the old law but rather fulfill it. We live what we teach. Our words instruct, but our deeds of living the Beatitudes move us to give witness to the teaching which Jesus and Mary have given to us and make it acceptable for others to practice and live. We must preach by example.
Jesus has said to His disciples,
"You are the salt of the earth. Salt is
excellent in its place but if salt becomes
tasteless, how can you season it.”
Disciples are to keep salt in their hearts in that they are to be at peace with one another. They are to keep salt in their words so that seasoned with that salt they are able to reply to each other as they should. Seasoned with the salt of God's covenant they are
to give flavor to the men of the world through their covenant with a living God. As disciples, you are salted with fire. Jesus has said, "I have come to cast fire upon the earth and I will that it be enkindled. He who is close to me is close to fire."
A fire which inflames the world, burns in the hearts of disciples as it did in the disciples on the road to Emmaus. It descended on disciples at the first Pentecost and it now descends on the disciples of today in a new Pentecost.
Jesus has promised,
Yet once more I will shake not only the earth
but also the heavens and that once more shows
that shaken created things will pass away so that
only what is unshakened may remain.
Therefore, we who are receiving the unshakable kingdom should hold fast to God's grace as His disciples so that we may offer worship acceptable to Him in reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.
The disciples who have received the fire of the Spirit have overcome the distance between God and man and this is accomplished by the gift of God Himself, Who is in the very depths of His disciples and all men.
Jesus says of Himself,
"I am the light of the world."
And He witnesses His oneness with His disciples as He says,
"You are the light of the world, and while you
have the light, walk in the light, thus you will
become sons of light."
Jesus is witnessed in the gospels as Father, Brother, Friend, Teacher, Advocate, Protector and Redeemer, as the way, the truth, the life, and the light. The Doctrine that Jesus is our light is really taught by the gospels so that if we really believe and live in Him we have already begun eternal life, we have come to the salvation which Jesus has wrought. We have made efficacious the Holy Law which is capable of destroying the deadly poison of Satan instilled by the first sin. By means of the light of the precepts and counsels which Jesus gives, the disciples become spiritualized and exalted in participation with Christ until they become like Him in every way. They become as well the receivers of His riches and afterwards participate in His light of glory.
Disciples experience men existing either as sons of the world or as sons of the light. They know that those who practice evil, hate the light and do not come near it for fear that their deeds will be exposed. Those who act in truth come into the light to make clear that their deeds are done in God. The disciples also realize that they were in darkness but that now they are light in the Lord and that they must live as sons of that light, for light produces every kind of goodness, justice, and truth. In this way they can correct their judgement and do what pleases the Lord. They will not take part in the vain deeds that are done in darkness. But as sons of light they will let their light shine before men so that all may give glory to their Father in heaven.
Committed to light as disciples, they are transformed from light to light. Their goal is to come to that light of glory in which they will see God face to face in our Father's kingdom.
As the anawim who serve the anawim, the disciples are the prophets of the New Testament. The Sermon on the Mount manifests them as men of justice and sincerity and of perfect justice. Their hearts are free of every evil desire, full of merciful love, and sincere in all the gifts that the Father has given to them. They use these gifts of reconciliation in all relationships with God, with themselves, with all men, and with all creation. They are men of suffering and joy and the fruitfulness of their suffering is the sign of their own predestination. Their joy in suffering is a grace of the Holy Spirit and is a true mark of their discipleship.
They are fruitful as their Heavenly Father has decided. They are recognized by their fruits as truly obedient to the will of the heavenly Father and not illusionary workers of wonders among men.
Jesus and Mary treat us as disciples with incomparable prudence and wisdom. They are for us all and are our king and queen. They procure for us all that is necessary to assist us in our spiritual life in the work of the king and queen. Their works go beyond the possibility of human understanding and by their continual and fervent prayers for us Jesus and Mary care for us in the fullness of their love. As prudent teachers, they nourish and strengthen us by example and counsel. When we are attacked by doubts and buffeted by secret temptations, they immediately hasten to our assistance in order to encourage and enlighten us by their light and charity. By their words they console and rejoice us; by their wisdom, they enlighten us; by their humility, they chasten us; by their modesty, they quiet us; by their gifts of the Holy Spirit, they enrich us.
Let us celebrate in festive hymn our calling as disciples, our conversion and perseverance, our
works of grace and virtue. These are the dynamics of the kingdom. Matthew in Mt 8:18-22, writes:
When Christ saw great crowds about Him He gave order to His disciples to go across the sea. A scribe came and said to Him, “Master I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus said to him, “The foxes have dens and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” Another one of His disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my Father.” But Jesus said to him, “Follow me and leave the dead to bury their own dead.”
As disciples of Jesus and Mary, we must renew in our hearts our esteem for the blessings of trials which are hidden in the providence of God and which He dispenses for our justification. We freely choose these sufferings unto death in love for God. And we magnify and praise Him in order that the pain and sorrow of natural death may be relieved by the joy of the Spirit. In the victories of Christ we must let our interior be lighted up at the time of death by fervent acts of divine love, faith, praise, thanksgiving, and humility.
Jesus continues to teach the disciples from life experience as we find in Mt 8: 23-27.
Then He got into a boat and His disciples followed Him and there arose a great storm on the sea so that the boat was covered by the waves, but He was asleep and so they came and awoke Him saying, “Lord, save us we are perishing,” but He said to them. “Why are you fearful, oh you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the sea and there came a great calm. And the men marveled saying, “What manner of man is this that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”
Here Jesus teaches the disciples that their faith gives light to their understanding. In the darkness of their life experiences, their faith directs them not to stray from the Way, but rather, with God's grace, to rise above themselves. It assures them with certainty what is far beyond their own powers. It frees them from being closed into the limited knowledge given by their senses. It frees them from the narrow- mindedness of believing only what they can see and experience by their own limited abilities.
In the 9th chapter the dynamic of the kingdom continues:
Now as Jesus passed on from there He saw a man named Matthew sitting in a tax collectors’ place, and said to him, “Follow me.” And he arose and followed Him. It came to pass as He was at table in the house, that behold, many publicans and sinners came to the table with Jesus and His disciples, “Why does your master eat with publicans and sinners?” But Jesus heard it and said, “It is not the healthy who need a physician but they who are sick. Go and learn what this means. I desire mercy and not sacrifice. For I have come to call sinners, not the just.”
Jesus teaches His disciples here as all through the gospels that He always went about seeking to pardon and to load with blessings those who are in sin. By our imitating this charity and the meekness of the Lamb of God, we dispose ourselves to receive and maintain a noble spirit of charity and of love of God and neighbor. This makes us prepared for all the influences of divine grace and kindness that the Lord desires to give in the riches of His Mercy.
We see Jesus in the next incident in Mt 9:14-17 defending His disciples.
At that time the disciples of John came to Him saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees often fast whereas your disciples do not fast? And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them. Then will they fast. And no one puts a patch of raw cloth on an old garment, for the patch tears away from the garment and a worse rent is made. Nor do people pour new wine into old wine-skins, else the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are ruined. But, they will put new wine into fresh skins and both are saved.”
As disciples of Jesus and Mary, even in your most spiritual and virtuous works, deficiencies occur. These are made up for by offering the merits of Christ Our Lord and Our Lady, so that your works will be acceptable to our eternal Father. If you are deficient in humility, offer to the Father the humility of Jesus and Mary. If you are deficient in obedience, offer the obedience of Jesus and Mary to the Father. If you are deficient in charity, offer the charity of Jesus and Mary to the Father. Whatever you are deficient in offer for that the grace and virtue, the work and blessing, the light and glory of Jesus and Mary. This is the putting of the new wine into the new wine skins so that both are saved.
The miracles of Jesus constitute His first assault on the kingdom of Satan. This dynamic occurs in Mt 9:18-26.
As He was saying this to them, behold a ruler came up and worshiped Him saying, “My daughter has just now died, come and lay your hand upon her and she will return to life.”, and Jesus arose and followed him and so did His disciples.
Now a woman who had for twelve years been suffering from hemorrhage came up behind Him and touched the tassel of His clothes saying to herself, “If I but touch His cloak, I shall be saved”, but Jesus turning and seeing her said “Take courage daughter, thy faith has saved thee”, and the woman was restored to health from that moment.
And when Jesus came to the ruler’s house and saw the flute players and the crowd making a din, he said, “Begone, the girl is asleep, not dead.” And they laughed Him to scorn, But when the crowd had been put out, He went in and took her by the hand; and the girl arose. And the report of this spread throughout all that district.
Disciples of Jesus and Mary need in their assault on the kingdom of Satan a detachment from earthly security, a filial relationship yielding to the will of Christ, a greatness of faith, and a courage that flows from that faith. They must work with those in most need and become true witnesses of mercy and resurrection, willing to be laughed at, and yet filled with the spirit of compassion. Their miracles will then truly bring forth the kingdom of God.
Jesus continues His preaching of the Kingdom and His teaching of the disciples in Mt 9: 35-38.
And Jesus was going about all the towns and villages teaching in the synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom and curing every kind of disease and infirmity. But seeing the crowd, he was moved with compassion for them because they were bewildered and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd, and then he said to His disciples, “The harvest indeed is great but the laborers are few: pray, therefore, the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into His harvest.”
Disciples of Jesus and Mary have a deep devotion and love for the Communion of Saints and for all the patrons that the Church gives to us. Among those patrons, one who has a special love and devotion for disciples is Saint Joseph, the one whom Jesus was subject to as the scriptures say. He is the patron of all those who work in the harvest, patron of the Church, patron of the sick and the dying, patron for the conversion of Russia from Communism, and many other patronages. It is He who continues to bring forth fruitfulness in the harvest of our Father's vineyard through the privileges which God has given to him. And so disciples turn to St. Joseph and make fruitful those privileges of attaining purity and overcoming sensible inclinations of the flesh; of procuring his help to escape sin and return to the friendship of God; of increasing the love and devotion to Mary, our Most Holy Mother; of receiving the grace of a happy death, and protection against the devils at that hour, of inspiring the devils with the terror at the mere mention of his name, of assistance in all kinds of difficulties, of securing the issue of children in families, and the many other favors for those disciples who are devoted to him if they will dispose themselves to receive and merit them.
In Mt. 10 Jesus gives to His disciples the authority to fight for the kingdom of God against the kingdom of Satan. He then gives the instruction as to how they are to continue that fight. In Mt
Then having summoned His twelve disciples, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out and to cure every kind of disease and infirmity.
Jesus then gives authority to the disciples to begin their fight for the kingdom of God against Satan and his kingdom. Then Jesus continues His instruction as to how they are to continue that fight until the final victory is won for the kingdom of God. Jesus says,
“... Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out devils. Freely you have received, freely give. Keep nothing with you for the laborer deserves his living; no gold, silver, money, or wallet, no extra tunic, sandals or staff. Give the gift of peace; if you are not received move on. You are like sheep in the midst of wolves. Be wise as serpents and simple as doves. Men will deliver you up! Do not be worried about what you will say, it will be given you. The Spirit of your Father will speak through you as followers of Christ. You will be hated by all, but persevere to salvation. When persecution comes move to other places; as disciples you are like your master not above him. What happened to him will happen to you. If they call Jesus a devil, they will do so to you. You have nothing to be afraid of for there is nothing concealed that will not be made known. What you hear in the darkness, preach on the housetops. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but be afraid of him who is able to destroy body and soul in hell. You are of much more value than many sparrows. Acknowledge Christ before men and he will acknowledge you before our Father. Disown Him before men and He will disown you before your Father.”
Jesus tells us that He came as a sign of contradiction to bring the sword and not peace. Love no one more than Him. Take up your cross and follow Him in a death to yourself; lose your life to find it. This creates a tension in you: "He who receives you receives Me," Jesus said, and, "Whoever gives to one of these little ones a cup of cold water to drink because he is a disciple, amen, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward."
The 11th-13th chapters, portray the mystery of the kingdom - that mysterious character of the heavenly kingdom is a grace of God and can only be perceived by a living faith. Jesus issues His invitation to that faith in all three of these chapters.
In Mt 11: 25-27:
At that time Jesus spoke and said, “I praise thee Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and the prudent, and revealed them to little ones. Yes, Father, for such was your good pleasure. All things have been delivered to me by my Father and no one knows the Son except the Father, nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and Him to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.”
This really is the pattern of meditative prayer of discipleship. Disciples are asked to go to the Father in faith and ask Him to teach them about Jesus, and to go to Jesus and ask Him to teach them about their Father. For this is the mission of Jesus: to reveal the Father. Jesus, as St. Paul says, is the image of the Father.
In the 12th chapter of St. Matthew’s gospel, Jesus shows His disciples that His defense of them is an opportunity to give new grace to those who have set themselves against Him:
At that time Jesus went through the standing grain on the Sabbath and His disciples being hungry began to pluck ears of grain and to eat. But the Pharisees, when they saw it, said to Him, “Your disciples are doing what it is not lawful for them to do on the Sabbath.” But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he and those who were with him were hungry? How he entered the house of God and ate the loaves of proposition which neither he nor those with him could lawfully eat, but only the priests. Or have you not read that on the Sabbath day the priests in the temple break the Sabbath and are guiltless?
But I tell you that one greater than the temple is here. But, if you knew what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would never have considered condemning the innocent; for the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
Disciples come to consider the works of Jesus and penetrate with humble reverence the mystery which He conceals within them for the salvation of all. These sentiments of wonder are especially united to a deep veneration in disciples for the judgements of the Lord who disposes all things connected with redemption according to His own equity, goodness, and righteousness, and in a manner befitting all His attributes. The Lord denies to none of His enemies sufficient help to follow the good, if only they wished to use their freedom for that purpose. Jesus wishes all of them to be saved, as we find in 1 Tim. 2:4. And if not all of them attain this salvation, none can justly complain against His superabundant kindness. The mark of disciples is that they remain faithful to that work of salvation that Jesus shares with them.
In Jesus, as a servant of Yahweh proclaiming the true faith to the Gentiles in His name, the outpouring of the Spirit's promise in the Messianic era by the Old Testament prophets, is always found. In Jesus' work the promise of the sign of His death and resurrection, which, together with faith, brings all men to salvation is manifest. This is shown in Mt 12: 46-50.
While He was still speaking to the crowds, His Mother and His brethren were standing outside seeking to speak to Him, and someone said to Him, “Behold, thy mother and brethren are standing outside,” but He answered and said to Him who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brethren?” Stretching forth his hand towards his disciples He said, “Behold, my mother and my brethren! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother. “
Here Jesus shows that the supernatural bond of a genuine relationship to Himself is far greater and above even the strongest natural ties of family. As disciples of Jesus and Mary we acknowledge and thank the Father, the creator of all, by obeying His Holy Will. We resign ourselves to what pleases Him as did Jesus, the Spirit and Mary. We undergo all torments and afflictions for the salvation of mankind in union with our divine Savior and the Mother of our Savior. As disciples of Jesus and Mary, we ask them for the fortitude and courage to participate in the Paschal Mystery.
This next section on the mysteries of the heavenly kingdom is found in Mt 13: 3-53.
Herein, Jesus shows the disciples that they are privileged to know the mysteries of the heavenly kingdom, to know the supernatural character of the whole divine plan of salvation which is found in the mystery of God's dominion over them. Jesus manifested that the disciples are happy because they are to witness with a living faith the consummation of Israel's religious history and the events of Jesus' life. Finally, as Jesus closes the parables on the plan of salvation, He asks the disciples if they have understood the lessons that are contained in these parables and they answer that they do.
Disciples of Jesus and Mary acknowledge Christ as their true Messiah and Redeemer, God and Man, who had been promised to them in the old law. and to their delight, has come to be with them in the new law. Bound to this belief they confess this truth in their words. They come to understand the true anointing of the Savior which is an unction that was prefigured in the kings and priests of the old covenant, as David manifests in the 44th Psalm. But here Jesus manifests for the disciples the unction of the divinity resulting from union with His humanity. Thus in the humanity of all men, Christ saw the anointing of the gifts of grace and glory corresponding to the hypostatic union. All these mysteries of truth were providentially revealed in the person of Christ, Who is divine and human in His nature.
The faith-life of the disciples witnesses the fullness of the divine and human, God-Man. In the divine realities of faith they believe in one God who is independent and necessary, infinite and immense, unchangeable and eternal. They pray that all men will accept this truth and they fight against the idolatry that is so present and prevalent in their day. They bring forth a true worship of God, in Spirit, and in truth. They believe that God is our Father, and that He is our beginning and our last end, that He was not born or proceeding from the Son or the Spirit, and is the origin of all else. He created all without beginning and He is Himself the beginning of all. The Spirit of giving thanks to our Father for all that is present is essential daily to the spirituality of disciples.
They believe in the Son Who is generated eternally by the Father's intellect and Who is equal to Him in divine life, eternity, and attributes. They believe in the Holy Spirit Who proceeds from the Father and the Son as one principle, Who is breathed forth in love, and is equal to the Father and the Son in all things and that He emanates and proceeds from the divine intellect and will. They believe in the Creator of all, and that all Three are Creator; that They are infinite and all powerful and that God is the first cause and that They preserve all, and no one else creates out of nothing.
The disciples acknowledge God as the author of all. They believe in the predestination, vocation and justification of all men. They believe that those who do not profit from the mercy of God lose eternal happiness although God wills the salvation of all. They believe that Jesus as God-Man, is the one who came as Savior, though their salvation comes from all three, and that Jesus is the price of the Father's love. They believe in the eternal happiness and it is important that they do believe, in order to obtain that happiness.
The disciples believe that the kingdom is clearly visible in Jesus as Son of God and Son of Man who came on mission from his Father; for it pleased our Father to reestablish all things in Him who came to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.
Disciples of Jesus and Mary believe that Jesus, Son of our Eternal Father, for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven and was incarnate. He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He worked with human hands, He thought with a human mind, He acted by human choice, He loved with a human heart, and in His compassion, united Himself with all mankind (Heb. 4:15). They believe that Mary conceived and brought forth and nourished Christ, presented Him to the Father, united with Him in His sufferings, death, resurrection, and ascension. She cooperates lovingly with the Holy Spirit, the soul of the Church, so that there might born in the Church all who are members of Christ. She cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope and burning charity in His saving work of restoring supernatural life to souls, so that she is the mother of the disciples in the order of grace.
In the Eucharist the disciples believe and announce: "Every time, then, you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord Jesus until He comes" (1 Cor.11-26). In the poor and suffering they recognize the likeness of the poor and suffering Redeemer, and they do all they can to relieve their needs. Jesus rose up again after His suffering and death on the cross for mankind and He manifested that He had been appointed Lord, Messiah, and Priest forever. He poured out on His disciples the Spirit promised by the Father in
Acts 2:33. And, Jesus was Himself made flesh so that as perfect man He might save all men and sum up all things in Himself. (Eph. 1:10) He is whom the Father raised from the dead and lifted on high and stationed on His right hand making Him judge of the living and dead. For the disciples, Jesus is everything in all of us and we journey with the Lord as pilgrims uniting ourselves with Him until He fulfills His word, "Behold I come quickly." He will come again and His reward is with Him to render to each one according to his works. "I am the Alpha and the Omega; the beginning and the end, the first and the last. (Apocalypse 22:1213)
Disciples of Jesus and Mary carefully preserve and reverence the knowledge and understanding of their faith, knowing that all of their enemies try to rob them of these treasures. They let their faculties be clothed with double garments of interior and exterior watchfulness to resist temptations against faith. The teachings of their faith are the very weapons that they use to fight the good fight. They firmly believe in exercising their faith, constantly meditating and remembering and being illumined in their souls. By their faith they find that error is driven away, the deceits of Satan are dispersed, the false word with which Satan tries to deceive is dispelled, and darkness is overcome by the light of faith. The teachings of our faith nourish the spirit of the disciples and strengthen their souls to fight the Lord's battles.
Even though they see around them some who are forgetful and negligent and others who give themselves to carnal and sensual life because they lack faith or are untouched by it, disciples live their faith and meditate on its mysteries knowing their powerful effects.
The disciples grow in the understanding of the exalted and wonderful revelations that the Lord has given them that pertain to the mysteries of the Trinity, to the divine and human Christ, His life, His death, and His resurrection. As disciples of Jesus and Mary they will taste, in the gift of their living faith, the sweetness of peace and eternal life.
MATTHEW 14 - 19th CHAPTERS
Herein you will see the person of Jesus in a very special way, developing relationships with the disciples and teaching the disciples various aspects of relationships. We begin with Mt 14: 13-21:
When Jesus heard this, He withdrew by boat to a desert place apart; but the crowds heard of it and followed him on foot from the towns. And when He landed, he saw a large crowd, and out of compassion for them he cured their sick. Now when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, “This is a desert place and the hour is already late; send the crowds away, so that they may go into the villages and buy themselves food.”
But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away; you yourselves feed them some food.” They answered him, “We have here only five loaves and two fishes.” He said to them, “Bring them here to me.”
And when he had ordered the crowd to recline on the grass, he took the five loaves and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all ate and were satisfied; and they gathered up what was left over, twelve baskets full of fragments. Now the number of those who had eaten was five thousand men, without counting women and children.
The disciples of Jesus and Mary recognize in Jesus' multiplication of the loaves and fishes the prelude to the relationship with Him in the Eucharist. He is the beloved of their soul and the light of their life. Deeply, and with an ardent hope and trust, they desire to participate in the sacrament of our Lord's body and blood. They desire to share the effects of this pledge of His glory. They know their unworthiness of such a blessing in this relationship which God has set above all of His works. They have nothing to merit such a gift, except His own infinite merits. They ask Our Lady and the angels to help them prepare to receive Our Lord so that He makes us His by this new possession and friendship. All their desires and works are devoted to this renewed unity and this enkindles their hearts with an ardent love that they might never be separated from Him who is all our good and love.
As the 14th chapter has stressed the person in relationship, the 15th chapter stresses the responsibility in relationship. The first scripture in the 15th chapter begins in the first verse:
Then the Scribes and Pharisees from Jerusalem came to him, saying, “Why do your disciples transgress the tradition of the ancients? For they do not wash their hands when they take food.” But He answered and said to them, “And why do you transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Let him who curses father or mother be put to death.’ But you say, ‘Whoever shall say to his father or mother, “Any support you might have from me is dedicated to God,” does not have to honor his father or mother.’ So you have made void the commandment of God by your tradition. Hypocrites, well did Isaias prophesy of you, saying,
‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me; And in
vain do they worship me, teaching
as doctrine the precepts of men.”
Then He called the crowd to Him, and said to them, “Hear and understand. What goes into the mouth does not defile a man; but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles a man.”
Then his disciples came up and said to him, “Did you not know that the Pharisees have taken offense at hearing this saying?” But he answered and said, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. Let them alone; they are blind guides of blind men. But if a blind man guide a blind man, both fall into a pit.”
But Peter spoke to him, saying, “Explain to us this parable.” And He said, “Are you also even yet without understanding? Do you not realize that whatever enters the mouth passes into the belly and is cast out into the drain? But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and it is they that defile a man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, immorality, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things that defile a man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.”
Disciples think well of the way that they wish to choose in Jesus and Mary. For Jesus, as priest, redeemer, and king is tormented, afflicted, crowned with thorns, and saturated with reproaches; disciples must desire to have a part with Him and to be a member of His body, and therefore, it is not possible for them to live steeped in the pleasures of the flesh. As disciples they must be the persecuted and not the persecutor; the oppressed and not the oppressor; the one who bears the cross, encounters scandal, and not the one who gives it; the one who suffers and at the same time makes none of his neighbors suffer. The disciples, therefore, exert themselves for the conversion and salvation of all in whatever way is compatible with their state in life and vocation.
This is the portion of disciples; this is their inheritance in this life. By the torments and reproaches of Christ and His death on the cross, Jesus has purchased for them participation in the grace of His death and the glory of His resurrection. Mary also has cooperated in this work and paid with her sorrows and afflictions so that none of these must ever be blotted out of a disciple's memory. She has rightly been called, "Cause of our joy". The Almighty would indeed have been powerful enough to exult all of those who were His family in this world but He did not, because of the danger of our thinking that greatness consists in what is visible, and happiness in what is of this earth, and that we might be induced to forsake the virtues and the glory of the Lord and fail to experience the fruitfulness of divine grace and cease to strive towards spiritual and eternal things. This is the science which Jesus and Mary teach to the disciples; and one in which they must study continually and must advance in day by day putting into practice all that they learn and understand and know.
Jesus and the Canaanite woman; This is found in Mt 15:21
And leaving there, Jesus retired to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And, behold, a Canaanite woman came out of that territory, and cried out to Him, saying, “Have pity on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is sorely beset by a devil.” He answered her not a word. His disciples came up and besought Him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying after us.” But He answered and said, “ I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the House of Israel.” But she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord help me!” He said in answer, “It is not fair to take the children’s bread and cast it to the dogs.” But she said, “Yes, Lord; for even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” And Jesus answered and said to her, “Woman great is your faith; let it be done to you as you will.” And her daughter was healed from that moment.
Disciples of Jesus and Mary desire to attain the treasure of humility and all of its fullness. They offer to God a docile and yielding heart in order that He may impress upon it, like a soft wax, the image of His own most humble work.
Disciples must not lose the least occasion of humiliation in order to advance in this virtue. The greater the gifts that God gives to the disciples and the greater the prerogative, the greater must be the humility on which they are built. All the gifts that God gives far exceed our merits and only increase our obligations. Since we are all children of Adam and conceived in sin and there are none who have not sinned on their own account, we cannot deny the infection of our nature. Therefore, we must humiliate ourselves before God and man, lowering ourselves to the very dust. We must place ourselves in the way which we follow Christ Who humbled Himself even to the death on the cross. The truly humble must bring themselves to their own littleness even beneath that which they deserve. Real deep humility goes to the length of desiring a greater humiliation that is due to oneself in justice. God is ready to reward the efforts of those disciples who humble themselves as far as they can and as they deserve in justice.
The next teaching of Jesus on discipleship is found in Mt 15: 32-39.
Then Jesus called together his disciples and said, “I have compassion on the crowd, for they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat; and I am unwilling to send them away fasting, lest they faint on the way.” And the disciples said to Him, “But in a desert, where are we to get enough loaves to satisfy so great a crowd?” Jesus said to them, “How many loaves have you?” And they said, “Seven and a few little fishes.”
And He bade the crowd recline on the ground. Then taking the seven loaves and the fishes, he gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowd. And they all ate and were satisfied; and they took up what was left of the fragments, seven full baskets. Now those who had eaten were four thousand men, apart from children and women. When he had dismissed the crowd, he got into the boat, and came into the district of Magedan.
Disciples of Jesus and Mary know the Lord and know how to trust Him, for they readily place their love in Him whom they trust, in Him whom they have confidence, in Him whom they esteem. Disciples seek the Lord so as to deserve His providential care. They trust in God and acknowledge Him as their Father Who willingly provides, nourishes and sustains them without fail in all their necessities. They use ordinary means to acquire what is needed and then they leave the rest to Him. They have confidence in the Lord without being disturbed or confused, hoping patiently even when help is delayed; for it is always at hand when it will do the most good and when our Father's love can manifest itself most conveniently and openly.
Disciples realize that the source of all damage done to men is their poor concept of the infinite goodness of a loving Father Who gave them being and preserves them and that they fail to place their full confidence in Him. Failing in this, they fail also in the love due to Him and they divert it towards creatures. They esteem in creatures what they are seeking, namely; power and riches, vain honor and ostentation, and although they could remedy this damage and injury by faith and love they allow these virtues to remain dead and unused and debase themselves to a level of avarice and concupiscence against the law of the creator.
Those who have virtues, trust in them. Those who have none, greedily search for them and sometimes obtain them in reprehensible ways and means by confiding in influential persons, praising and flattering them. They claim that they are merely satisfying their own needs, hiding their want for the interest of spiritual things. In reality they lie, since they are seeking what is luxury, not what is really necessary but what ministers to their worldly pride.
If men would confine their desires to what is really necessary for life, it would be unreasonable to put confidence in creatures instead of in God alone. He provides even for the young ravens with no less solicitude than if their crowings were prayers sent up to their creator for help.
Matthew 16 deals with the relationships to leadership with the Pharisees, and the Sadducees, the leadership of the Jews, with St. Peter in the leadership of the Church. and with Jesus in the leadership that He gives to us in His sufferings, in His cross. and in His death.
In Mt 16: 1-12, we hear Jesus speak to the leadership of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.
The Pharisees and the Sadducees came to Him to test Him, and they asked Him to show them a sign from heaven. But answering them He said, “When it is evening you say, ‘The weather will be fair, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning you say, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and lowering.’ You know then how to read the face of the sky, but cannot read the signs of the times! An evil and adulterous generation demands a sign, and no sign shall be given it but the sign of Jonas.” And he left them and went away.
And when His disciples crossed the sea, they found that they had forgotten to bring the bread. And he said to them, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees!” But they began to argue among themselves, saying, “We have brought no bread.” Jesus knowing this said, “You of little faith, why do you argue among yourselves, that you have no bread? Do you not understand yet, nor remember the five loaves among five thousand men, and how many baskets you took up? Nor the seven loaves and four thousand, and how many large baskets you took up? Why do you not understand that it is not bread, I said to you, Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees?” Then they understood that he bade them beware not of the leaven of the bread, but the teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
Jesus is Lord of all in heaven and on earth and disposes all in accord with His free will: the sun. moon, stars, fire, air, earth, sea and all creatures are His. He is head, ruler, and leader of all -
- angels and men. He punishes the wicked and rewards the good.
In His hands is the eternal justification of all men, the great, and the little, the rich and the poor. He is redeemer and glorifier, the Lord of life and death, of Holy Church in her treasures, laws and blessings of grace. Our Father has given all into His hands and subjected them to His will and decrees and in this is our Father's name exulted and magnified.
Jesus then speaks to His own leadership, to His sufferings, His cross and His death:
From that time Jesus began to show His disciples, that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and scribes and chief priests, and be put to death, and on the third day rise again. And Peter taking Him aside, began to chide Him, saying, “Far be it from you, Oh Lord: this will never happen to you.” He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan; you are a scandal to me; for you do not mind the things of God, but those of men.”
Disciples of Jesus and Mary are conscious of the dangerous carelessness concerning the passion and death of Jesus and the sorrows of Mary. The merits of both offered to our Father can delay the continued destruction present in the world and the punishment of those who know His will and fail to fulfill it.
Disciples of Jesus and Mary are called to unite with Jesus in His passion, by offering virtues that are opposed to the vices that are present; for blasphemies bless God, for oaths praise Him, for unbelief offer belief in Him and so on. All the while you are living in this world. Fly from dangerous conversation and if you fall as St. Peter did, weep over your fault and immediately seek the intercession of Jesus and Mary.
Disciples of Jesus and Mary are aware of and fight against the leaven of pride rooted in human nature. They put to work the teachings of the wise men; "More precious is a little foolishness in its turn than wisdom and glory, for it is better that we be considered at times ignorant and wicked than to make a show in vanity of virtue and wisdom". Many there are who want to appear wise and speak by multiplying words which cause them to become known as foolish. Preserve the doctrine of Jesus and Mary, abhor human ostentation, suffer in silence. Never judge yourself injured or offended by anyone and let the world consider you ignorant for it does not know where true wisdom lies. Remember that the greatest offense is to aspire to personal honor and influential positions. In regard to the gifts you receive, show yourself grateful as one who deserves less and owes more.
Jesus continues with the leadership of Peter in Mt. 16:3-20.
Now Jesus having come into the district to Caesarea Philippi, began to ask his disciples, saying, “Who do men say the Son of Man is?” But they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others Elias; and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” But He said to them, “Who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “Thou are’t the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered and said, “Blessed are thou, Simon Bar-Jona: for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I say to you, that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church; and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Then He strictly charged His disciples to tell no one that He was Jesus, the Christ.
Disciples of Jesus and Mary live in full relationship to the leadership of Jesus through the Holy Father. They confess, magnify and praise Jesus as God-Man, anointed with His own divine life, full of all grace and glory. He has full dominion over the universe, grace and nature.
Jesus then continues in Mt 16: 24-28:
Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For he who would save his life will lose it: but he who loses his life for My sake will find it. For what does it profit a man, if he gained the whole world, but suffer the loss of his own soul? For the Son of Man is to come with His angels in the glory of His Father; and then He will render to everyone according to his conduct. Amen I say to you, there are some of those standing here, who will not taste death, till they have seen the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”
Disciples of Jesus and Mary perceive in the life of the master, Jesus our Savior, the beloved cross. They put themselves under its protection and under its standard they fight the good fight. They embrace the insults and dishonor, the pains and affronts, the scourges, the thorns, the torments, and death that come into their lives. They welcome them and long for them as they efface the touches of sin from them. Free your heart from being carried away by pride and being repelled by humility, or being ravished by what is pleasurable, and abhorring what is painful. Beware of the deceitful fascination of vanity by exhausting ourselves to avoid a small inconvenience, or of resolving to suffer eternal shame and confusion to evade a slight dishonor. Do not judge the poor and afflicted as unhappy when we see Jesus, true God and creator, master and Father, suffering horrible insults, persecution, torments, and the destitution of the cross. Esteem all of these crosses as your honor and way of following your crucified God-Man. Thus you will come into relationship with the glorified Christ in His resurrection and New Life.
In Mt 17: 1-13 we see the relationship with the glory of God that is manifested in the mystery of the transfiguration. This is found in the 1st -13th verses.
Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James and his brother John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And was transfigured before them: His face shown as the sun, and His garments became as white as snow. And, behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elias talking together with Him. Then Peter addressed Jesus and said, “Lord it is good for us to be here: if you will, let us set up three tents here; one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elias. As he was still speaking, behold a voice out of the clouds said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear Him.” On hearing it, the disciples fell on their faces, and were exceedingly afraid. And Jesus came to them and touched them, and said to them, “Arise, and do not be afraid.” And lifting their eyes, they saw no one, but Jesus.
And as they were coming down from the mountains, Jesus cautioned them, saying, “Tell the vision to no one, till the Son of Man has risen from the dead.”
With inmost gratitude and the deepest penetration of heart, disciples of Jesus and Mary ponder the divine glory of Jesus communicated to His body in the mystery of the transfiguration. They praise the exulted power of God and rejoice and live in the words of the eternal Father, acknowledging Jesus as His Son and appointing Him as the teacher of all. As the apostles were fortified by the transfiguration for the sacred passion, we see the great value of momentary hardships endured by the disciples in the privation of the delights of the earth and in mortification and suffering for the sake of Christ. Those disciples who are afflicted and bear hardship for His love and in union with His own, are assured of a proper measure of His glory in the resurrection of their bodies in the final judgment. For the glory which was given to the body of Christ, our Savior, is a pledge which Christ has secured for all those that follow Him.
Again in Mt 17: 14-20, we see the glory of God and our relationship as disciples to that glory in the power of exorcism and in the life of faith. Jesus speaks to this in the 14th-20th verses in the 17th chapter.
And when He had come to the crowd, a man approached Him, and threw himself on his knees before Him, saying, “Lord, have pity on my son: for he is a lunatic, and suffers severely; for often he falls into the fire, and often into the water. And I brought him to your disciples, and they could not cure him.”
Jesus answered and said, “O unbelieving and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to me.” And Jesus rebuked him; and the devil went out of him: from that moment the boy was cured.
Then the disciples came to Jesus privately, and said, “Why could not we cast it out?” And He said to them, “Because of your little faith: for amen I say to you, if you had faith like a mustard see, you will say to this mountain, ‘Remove from here’; and it will remove; and nothing will be impossible to you. But this kind can be cast out only by prayer and fasting.”
Disciples of Jesus and Mary are conscious of the powerful defense they possess as children of God in the life of faith from their baptism and in their work of prayer and fasting. They use this power with confidence exercising their dominion and superiority over the devils in the name of Jesus and Mary. They know that Satan attempts to entice souls from their creator and sow seeds of discord to separate them from their heavenly Father. Whenever he sees them united with their creator and living in communion with Christ, he persecutes them and in envy and malice tries to deceive and destroy them. If the person takes refuge in the unfailing and powerful protection of God, then Satan is weakened and tormented and this strengthens the authority of God's truth so that despising and casting him out there is nothing so weak as the devil in his prideful iniquity.
In the 18th and 19th chapter, we see the relationship between disciples and children. This is found in Mt 18: l-6, 10-12; and 19:13-15.
At that hour the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? Jesus called a little child out to Him, set him in their midst, and said, “Amen I say to you, unless you turn, and become like little children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever therefore humbles himself as this little child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
“And whoever receives one such little child for my sake receives me. And whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it were better for him to have a great mill stone hung around his neck, and to be drown in the depths of the sea.”
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you, their angels in heaven always behold the face of My Father in heaven.”
Little children were brought to Him, that He might lay His hands on them, and pray; but the disciples rebuked them. And Jesus said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them: for are such is the kingdom of heaven.” And when he had laid his hands on them, He departed from that place.
The relationship of disciples of Jesus and Mary with children is that they be gratefully aware of them and inflamed with an ardent love for the wonder of God in them, praising the Lord for His children as His magnificent work, worthy of His goodness and power. See to it that the children receive the height and depth and breadth of the knowledge of God. The disciples are to strive to bring the children to perfect love, faith and hope which is witnessed in their worship and love for God. They are to see that they pray for their parents to be rewarded by God and to obtain the light and grace for their parents to advance in spiritual things. They are to live a life which witnesses a reverence and compassion for their parents especially when they are older. They must willingly give the gift of their lives to God for all the blessings flowing from His boundless love.
Children are to come to know that without humility nothing they do is worthy of God. With humility present they can make a grateful return to Him for all of His gifts, gifts of being created in His image and likeness, of knowing, loving, seeing, serving and enjoying Him now and eternally in the kingdom of heaven.
ST. MATTHEW 19TH - 26TH CHAPTERS
The problems of making the kingdom universal are the concerns present in these chapters. They address divorce and marriage, material possessions, ambition, desire for honor, poor leadership and the eschatological signs of Christ coming.
Our first teaching is in Mt 19: 3-12.
And there came to Him some Pharisees, testing Him, and saying, “Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for any cause?” He asked in return, “Have you not read that the Creator from the beginning made them male and female?” And He said, “For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh. Therefore they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, no man can put asunder.” They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a written notice of dismissal, and to put her away?” He said to them, “Because Moses by reason of the hardness of your hearts permitted you to put away wives: but it was not so from the beginning. I say to you, whoever puts away his wife, except for immorality, and marries another, commits adultery: and he who marries a woman who has been put away commits adultery.”
His disciples said to Him, “If the case of a man with his wife is so, it is not expedient to marry.” And He said, “Not all can accept this teaching, but those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who are born so from their mother’s womb, and eunuchs, who are made so by men, and there are eunuchs, who have made themselves so for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let him accept it who can.”
Disciples of Jesus and Mary who are husbands and wives realize that to God nothing is impossible and nothing is impossible to those who, with lively faith and hope in Him, resign themselves entirely to His divine providence. How faithful is our God to His beloved and chosen who continue to love and serve Him in matrimony! The work of God in your marriage is to open yourselves to the joy and consolation of the Lord as holy and chaste spouses, faithfully observing the laws of a spouse in holiness and purity, perfection and love.
As wives, give praise, reverence and glory to our God and creator. In your needs, He manifests His greatness and mercy. He has chosen you to serve. Therefore, acknowledge your indebtedness to Him and in His divine life consecrate yourselves to truth and to the knowledge of the deceitfulness of visible things. Thus He may bestow on you the eternal goods for which you hope. In the goodness and blessing of the Lord, strive to obey and serve your spouse as your creator has commanded.
Husbands, acknowledge your obligation to the Lord of creation Who has called you to love Him with an upright heart.
Acknowledge your spouse in serving and loving the Lord and, with the help of divine grace, be a faithful servant and companion. In great joy of spirit, continue to praise and thank the Lord for your spouse. God will strengthen and help you to fulfill your duties every day without causing you to relax in your pursuit of the perfect love that is due to Him. Sacrifice your own will, submitting in humble patience to all that His providence may ordain, then His divine protection and power will guide all your actions to the perfection of your heavenly Father.
The next problem in bringing the kingdom to be universal is the problem of material Possessions. Jesus speaks to this problem in Mt 19: 16-29.
Behold, a certain man came to Him and said, “Good Master, what good work shall I do, to have eternal life?” And He said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? One there is Who is good and He is God. But if you will enter into life, keep the commandments.” He said to Him, “Which? And Jesus said, “Thou shall not kill. Thou shall not commit adultery. Thou shall not steal. Thou shall not bear false witness; Honor thy father and thy mother. And, thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself.” The young man said to Him, “All these I have kept; what is yet wanting to me?” Jesus said to him, “If you will be perfect, go sell what you have, give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come follow me.” When the young man heard the saying, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
But Jesus said to His disciples, “Amen I say to you, with difficulty will a rich man enter the kingdom of heaven. And further I say to you , “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.” The disciples hearing this, were exceedingly astonished, and said, “Who then can be saved?” And looking upon them, Jesus said to them, “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”
Then Peter addressed Him saying, “Behold, we have left all, and followed thee; what then shall we have? Jesus said to them, “Amen I say to you, you who have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man shall sit on the throne of His glory, you shall also sit on 12 thrones, judging the 12 tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left house, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold and shall possess life everlasting. But many who are first now will be last; and many who are last now will be first.”
Disciples of Jesus and Mary give up all of their material possessions in order to come to serve others, as they would want others to do for them. More than this, the disciples of Jesus and Mary may be called to give up their very lives for Jesus, His honor and His Holy Name. They must be courageous, but peaceful, amiable to men and docile to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
They must be humble in heart, disposed to truth, thankful for God's gifts, full of wisdom, faith and the Holy Spirit. They must work zealously for the honor of Christ as courageous disciples, living the life of the Cross through the Rosary. They must be instruments in healing mankind's resentments, bridging differences, and uniting man in sincere charity. As faithful disciples, they imitate Jesus and Mary by praying for all, especially those who persecute them. They are beloved disciples whom Jesus and Mary love tenderly and bless frequently, thanking our Father for having created, called and chosen them.
The next problem revolves around the passion and death of our Lord: the pain and suffering, the rejections, trials and blasphemies, the insults, mocking, scourging and crucifixion. This is found in Mt 20: 17-19.
As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem He took the twelve disciples aside by themselves, and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn Him to death, and will deliver Him to the Gentiles to be mocked, scourged, and crucified; and on the third day He will rise again.”
Disciples of Jesus and Mary set a high value on the passion and death of Jesus by imitating Him and following Him on the way of the cross asking Him to make them partakers of His sorrows, sufferings, and torments, if it be our Father's will. Depriving us of interior delights, Our Father chastises and afflicts those whom He loves. Disciples expect and see the Father's love in all the trials that come to their lives. They choose to be assimilated in His suffering and regard it as their treasure and inheritance and as a true and great blessing of our heavenly Father. Mary and Jesus remain with the disciples and give them their loving companionship. Our Father's powerful protection will also never be wanting to them.
The next problem is the problem of ambition, and this is spoken to in Mt 20: 20-28.
Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to Him with her sons, and worshiping, she made a request of Him. He said to her, “What do you want?” And she said to Him, “Command that these my two sons may sit, one at your right hand, and one at your left, in your kingdom.” But Jesus answered and said, “You do not know what you are asking for. Can you drink the cup of which I am about to drink?” And they said to Him, “We can.” He said to them, “Of my cup, you shall indeed drink; but as for sitting at my right hand, and at my left, that is not mine to give you, but it belongs to those for whom it has been prepared by My Father.
And when the ten other disciples had heard this they were indignant at the two brothers. But Jesus called them to Him, and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. Not so is it among you. On the contrary, whoever wishes to become first among you, shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you, shall be your slave. Even as the Son of Man has not come to be served, but to serve, and give His life as a ransom for many.”
Disciples of Jesus and Mary are aware of divine providence in serving. They use wisdom according to the measure and weight of interior charity. They let the light of the lamb enlighten and govern them to deal with all in heartfelt love. They are governed by prudence and avoid preferences, teaching all that neither for the greater or lesser gifts should anyone presumptuously exult himself or deem himself worthy of honor as being favored by God or Our Lady. They want all to be satisfied with being loved by the Lord alone and favored by His friendship.
They fill those who come to them with joy and gratitude by their loving kindness, forsaking no one in necessity, nor denying consolation. They give no one the occasion to feel less esteemed, favored or loved than others. They do not presume on their own knowledge, prudence or virtue, especially in serious matters, but understand that true insight is conditioned by humility and good counsel. They conduct themselves in all things in the fullness of clarity and charity.
The next problem is the human weakness of the desire for honor. Jesus shows this problem of making the kingdom universal in Mt 21: 1-11.
And when they drew near to Jerusalem, and came to Bethpage, on the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find an ass tied, and a colt with her. Loose them, and bring them to me. If anyone say anything to you, you shall say that the Lord has need of them, and immediately he will send them.” Now this was done, that what was spoken to the prophet, might be fulfilled, “Tell the daughter of Sion, behold, your king comes to you, meek, and seated upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of a beast of burden.“ And so the disciples went, and did as Jesus had directed them, and they brought the ass, and the colt, and they laid their cloaks on them, and made Him sit thereon. And most of the crowd spread their cloaks along the road, while others were cutting branches from the trees, and strewing them on the road. The crowds that went before Him and those that followed, kept crying out, saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest! And when He had entered Jerusalem, all the city was thrown into confusion, saying, “Who is this? But the crowds kept saying, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.”
Disciples of Jesus and Mary acknowledge, confess and adore Christ as Lord and Master, as true God and Redeemer, whom the Father has glorified and will glorify again. They praise and share in His victories over the world, the flesh, death, sin and hell. His divine inspirations are active in their hearts and they are filled with joy at the visitation of grace which does not come without bringing forth great profit in confirming their faith and in doing good. They perceive how exalted are the judgments of the Lord and how far removed they are from the thoughts of men; for the Lord looks at the hearts of men, while men look only at what they perceive with their senses. They know how the just and chosen are esteemed by the Lord in their humiliation and self-abatement, while the proud are cast down and rejected by Him in their self-sufficiency.
The next problem is a lack of fruitfulness. This problem is brought into a parable by Jesus in teaching that He desires fruitfulness in order to make the kingdom universal. This is found in Mt 21:18-22.
Now in the morning on His way back to the city, he felt hungry. Seeing a fig tree by the wayside, He came up to it, and found nothing on it but leaves, and He said to it, “May no fruit ever come upon thee henceforth forever!” And immediately the fig tree withered up.
And upon seeing this, the disciples marveled, saying, “how did it come to wither up immediately!” Jesus answered and said to them, “Amen I say to you, If you have faith, and do not waver, not only will you do what I have done to the fig tree, but even if you shall say to this mountain, Arise and hurl yourself into the sea, it shall be done. And all things, whatever you ask for in prayer, believing, you shall receive.“
In the light of faith disciples never lose sight of the essence of God. He is their last end and with divine grace they attain the beginnings of this vision even in this life. They cast out the vain fears and temptations which hinder them from giving credit to our beloved Lord for His favors and blessings. They begin to become prudent and strong. In confident faith, they spend themselves in doing what is entirely pleasing to God so that He may do in them and through them whatever is best for His service.
The next problem is the problem of the conversion of sinners. This is dealt with in Mt 23:
Then Jesus spoke to the crowds, and to His disciples, saying, “the Scribes and Pharisees have sat on the chair of Moses. All things therefore that they command you, observe and do. But do not act according to their works; for they talk, but do nothing. And they bind together heavy and oppressive burdens, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but not with one finger of their own do they choose to move them. In fact, all their works they do in order to be seen by men; for they widen their phylacteries and enlarge their tassels, and love the first places at supper, and the front seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the market place, and to be called by men, “Rabbi,” But do not be called “Rabbi”; for one is your master, and all you are brothers. And call no one on earth your Father; for one is your Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called masters; for one only is your Master, the Christ. He who is the greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself shall be humbled, and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.”
“But woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you shut the kingdom of heaven against men. For you yourselves, do not go in nor do you allow those going in to enter.”
“Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you traverse sea and land to make one convert, and when he has become one, you make him twofold more a son of hell than yourselves.”
“Woe to you, blind guides, who say, “Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound. You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold, or the temple which sanctifies the gold? And whoever swears by the altar, is nothing; but whoever swears by the gift that is upon it, he is bound. Blind ones! For which is greater, the gift on the altar, or the altar which sanctifies the gift? Therefore he who swears by the temple, swears by it, and by all things that are on it; and he who swears by the temple swears by Him who dwells in it. And he who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God, and by Him who sits upon it.”
“Woe to you , Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you pay tithes on mint and anise and cummin, and have left undone the weightier matters of the Law, right judgement, mercy and faith. These things you ought to have done, while not leaving the others undone. Blind guides you strain out the gnat but swallow the camel.
“Woe to you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but within they are full of robbery and uncleanness. Blind Pharisee clean first the inside of the cup and the dish, and that the outside may too be clean.”
“Woe to you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you are whitened sepulchers which outwardly appear to men beautiful, but within are full of dead men’s bones, and all uncleanness. So you outwardly appear just to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.”
“Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You build the sepulchers of the prophets and adorn the tombs of the just and say, “If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been their accomplices in the blood of the prophets.” Thus you are witnesses against yourself, that you are the sons of those who killed the prophets.”
“You also fill up the measure of your fathers. Serpents, brood of vipers, how can you escape the judgement of hell? Therefore, behold, I send you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and so some of them you will put to death and crucify and some you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from town to town that upon you may come all the just blood that has been shed on the earth, from the blood of Abel the just unto the blood of Zacharias the son of Barachias, whom you killed between the temple and the altar. Amen, I say to you, All these things will come upon this generation.
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem! Thou who killest the prophets, and stones’ those who are sent to thee! How often would I have gathered your children together, as a hen gathers her young under her wings, but you would not! Behold, your house is left to you desolate. For I say to you, you shall not see me henceforth, until you shall say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.’”
Disciples of Jesus and Mary are aware that the floods of sin and guilt are not sufficient to extinguish the fire of divine love and the powerful efficaciousness of the infinite mercy of the Lord. They rouse themselves to new courage and confidence in prayers for the needs of the Church and the conversion of sinners. They are convinced of the power of God and the merits of the life and death of Christ. It is certain that if the malice of sin in one instant changed an angel into a devil, the grace of Jesus, our Redeemer, is more powerful and abounds more than sin. Greater is the Lord in His pardon and forgiveness than in giving sight to the blind, health to the sick and life to the dead. Sinners hope for their justification by the Lord who justifies, and He is not less powerful nor less holy for us. Eternally we will praise the unheard of mercies of God. Renounce your will and, with the sincerity of a humble and contrite heart, let your spirit as disciples be, "Lord, what do you wish to do with me and what shall I do to please Thee?"
Mt 24:1-26:2, deal with the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem as a forewarning of the last things in the final judgment. It begins in the 24th chapter, when Jesus is leaving the temple and His disciples come forward to show Him the buildings of the temple. He answers them:
Do you see all these things? Amen I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another, that will not be thrown down.”
And as He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when are these things to happen? And what will be the signs of your coming, and of the end of the world?” Jesus replies with this teaching: “See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. For you will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for these things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginnings of birth pangs.”
“Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations on account of My name. And at that time many will fall away and will deliver up one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise, and will mislead many. And because lawlessness is increased most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations and then the end shall come.“
”Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation’ which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place, -- let him who reads understand--, then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains; let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything from his house; and let him who is in the field not turn back to get his cloak. But woe to those who are with child and to those who nurse babes in those days! But pray that your flight may not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath; for then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall. And unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days shall be cut short.
“Then, if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ, or ‘There He is,’ do not believe him. For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. Behold, I have told you in advance. If therefore they say to you, “Behold, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go forth, or ‘Behold, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe them. For just as the lightning comes from the east, and flashes even to the west, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.
“But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky and the powers of the heavens will be shaken, and then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds from one end of the sky to the other.
“Now learn the parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender, and puts forth its leaves, you see that summer is near even so you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. Truly I say to you, this generation will not pas away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall not pass away.
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away. So shall be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left.
“Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which hour your Lord is coming. Be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason you be ready too; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will. Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that salve whom his master finds so doing when he comes. Truly I say to you, that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But if that evil slave says in his heart, ‘My master is not coming for a long time,‘ and shall begin to beat his fellow slaves and eat and drink with drunkards, the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know, and shall cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; weeping shall be there and the gnashing of teeth.”
“Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the groom was delaying, and they all got drowsy and began to sleep. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the prudent answered, saying, ‘No there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.”
Now while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast, and the door was shut. And later the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open up for us.’ But he answered and said, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.” Be on the alert then for you do not know the day nor the hour.”
‘For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his slaves, and entrusted his possessions to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability, and he went on his journey. Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more. But he who received the one talent went away and dug in the ground, and hid his master’s money.”
“Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. And the one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me; see, I have gained five more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done good and faithful servant; because you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your Master.’
The one also who had received the two talents came up and said, ‘Master, you entrusted to me two talents; see, I have gained two more talents. His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’
But, the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed. And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talents in the ground; see, you have what is yours. ‘But his master answered and said to him. ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I scattered no seed. Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.’ For to everyone who has shall more be given, and he shall have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. But as for the worthless slave cast him into the outer darkness, where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
“But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with Him, then he will sit on His glorious throne. And all the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on his right, and the goats on the left.”
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you invited me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed you, or thirsty, and give you drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? And when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you , to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to me.”
Then He will also say to those on His left. “Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.” Then they themselves also will answer, saying, ‘Lord when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.” And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
And it came about that when Jesus had finished all these words He said to his disciples, ‘You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man is to be delivered up for crucifixion.”
Disciples of Jesus and Mary possess no other splendor than that of God Himself. In His power, greatness, and wisdom they build the City of God. The foundation of the City of God is the apostles and the prophets. The temple is the Lord and the Lamb Who is attentive to all petitions and prayers. They find God present within themselves always and they converse with Him as true friends. They know the will of the Father and strive earnestly to fulfill it. They call all to the knowledge of God and eternal happiness.
The wisdom of Jesus and Mary enlightens them with divine light that they may walk in the path of true happiness. The patience of Jesus and Mary bears with them; the charity of Jesus and Mary inflames them; the meekness of Jesus and Mary draws them on; the counsel of Jesus and Mary governs them; the advice of Jesus and Mary prepares them for their works; and the power of Jesus and Mary delivers them from all dangers.
The kindness of Jesus and Mary is expressed toward all sinners who seek relief with a humble heart, for nothing is lacking that is needed for salvation. And in this clemency and mercy their names are written in the hearts of Jesus and Mary. Since Jesus and Mary teach them, let them imitate Jesus and Mary as far as possible. Let them be devoted to Jesus and Mary who serve them, thankful in the blessings of their faith. Let them zealously strive to spread and exalt with reverence, knowledge and veneration, the names of Jesus and Mary.
Thus they will drink at the fountain of living water. May all in this City of God advance in heartfelt love and devotion towards Jesus and Mary. Be convinced that they will help you in all of your trials and constantly assist you in all your works. Seek their intercession in all things and especially strive to live the baptismal vows and win victory over the world, the flesh, the devil, sin and death.
Jesus is the measure by which the disciples measure themselves. Let them follow the workings of grace that they may be worthy of glory. Knowing that the kingdom of heaven is won by violence, let them work ceaselessly. Let them resolve to be attentive, fervent, constant, eager, and diligent in seeking to please the Lord and keeping His presence. Let Him lend you his strength to fight His and your enemies. Let all strive with ardent love and desire to enrich all with the treasures of eternal happiness. Render assistance to all who come in need and grant protection to all who are in danger. Together with the angels, praise the Lord.
The PASSION, DEATH AND RESURRECTION is found in the 26th-28th chapters of St. Matthew's gospel. It begins:
And it came to pass when Jesus had finished all these words that He said to His disciples, “You know that after two days the Passover will be here and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.”
Then the chief priests and elders of the people gathered together in the court of the high priest, who was called Ciaphas, and they took counsel together how they might seize Jesus by stealth and put Him to death. But they said not on the feast or there might be a riot among the people.
Disciples of Jesus and Mary are invited by Jesus in the Good News to cast themselves into the sea of mysteries contained in His passion and death. As disciples we direct all of our faculties and strain all of the powers of our heart and soul to become worthy of meditating and understanding the ignominy and the sorrows of the Son of the Father in His death on the cross for the salvation of men. We are to study and learn how to follow and imitate our Lady of Sorrows, as our Mother and Teacher in the Passion and Death of Jesus and share in her joy of His Resurrection.
The kerigma continues in Mt 26:6-16.
Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the Leper, a woman came up to Him with an alabaster jar of precious ointment. She poured it on His head as He reclined at the table. When the disciples saw this they were indignant and said, “To what purpose is this waste, for this might have been sold for much and given to the poor.”
But Jesus perceiving it said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? She has done me a good turn, for the poor you have always with you but you do not always have Me. For in pouring this ointment on My body, she had done it for My burial. Amen, I say to you: wherever in the whole world this gospel is preached, this also that she has done shall be told in memory of her.”
Then one of the twelve called Judas Iscariot went to the chief priests and said to them, “What are you willing to give me for delivering Him to you?” And they assigned him thirty pieces of silver. And from then on he sought out an opportunity to betray Him.
Disciples of Jesus and Mary, like Magdalene, are to witness with divine light a magnanimous heart and an ardent love for Jesus in His Pascal Mystery. Their devotion to Him must flow from the inspirations of the Holy Spirit and their burning love towards Christ as our Redeemer. Jesus is worthy of a generous love from His disciples to honor Him in His sacred passion and death. You should desire to bring some consolation to Jesus in the midst of His sufferings unto death by your heartfelt sorrow, compassion and love. As a member of His mystical body, in union with Him, and as disciples, you are invited to the same bodily suffering, patient endurance, and pardoning of injuries which merited your redemption. As our father suffers and bears with us, we must in truth and charity bear with one another, always treating others as we want them to treat us.
The next teaching of our Lord is found in Mt 26:17-19.
Now on the first day of the unleavened bread, the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover?” But Jesus said, “Go into the city to a certain man and say to him, the Master says, “My time is near at hand, at your house I am keeping the Passover with My disciples.” And the disciples did as Jesus bade them and prepared the Passover.
Disciples of Jesus and Mary prepare to receive Jesus in Holy Communion innocent of hindering sin and filled with grace. They guard themselves against the error of seeking diversion in worldly pleasures or in outward and deceitful vanity. They are filled with His gifts and they make fervent acts of humility,
gratitude and love, whenever they are preparing to receive Him.
The next incident of Jesus' teaching with the disciples is found in Mt 26: 20-25.
Now when evening arrived, He reclined at the table with the twelve disciples; and while they were eating He said, “Amen, I say to you: one of you will betray Me.” And being very much saddened they began each to say, “Is it I Lord?” And He answered and said, “He who dips his hand into the dish with Me, he will betray Me. The Son of Man indeed goes His way and as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It were better for that man if he had not been born; “Is it I Rabbi?” He said to him, “You have said it.”
Since you see the base and dangerous forgetfulness of man, and know that for these very men their God and creator died, disciples of Jesus and Mary compensate for their neglect by their ardent love, as if all these benefits were left to their fidelity in gratitude alone. They grieve over the blind folly of men who despise eternal happiness and leave themselves to the wrath of the Lord by frustrating the boundless effects of His love. They esteem no hardship great, seek no rest or consolation on earth except to suffer and die with Christ and to be one in sorrow with Mary.
In Mt 26:26-29, these are the verses in which Jesus gives the beautiful Eucharistic pattern of blessing and breaking and giving to His disciples.
And while they were at supper Jesus took bread, blessed and broke and gave it to His disciples and said; “Take and eat; this is My body.” And taking a cup, He gave thanks and gave it to them saying: “All of you, drink of this. For this is My Blood, of the new covenant, which is being shed for many unto the forgiveness of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in the kingdom of My Father.”
As disciples of Jesus and Mary, blessed, broken and given you are to grow in humility, obedience, and charity by receiving Jesus in Holy Communion. Living the evangelical life of the New Testament, on fire with an ardent love that bursts into flames consuming all that is not of God. In the art of loving yourself and your neighbor, as Jesus said, "be expert and zealous", so that when injuries and sufferings come to you they will only awaken in you a greater love. Live from Communion to Communion, careful of forgetfulness, distraction and indifference. Preserve yourself in the good dispositions that are necessary to receive our Lord from one Communion to another and always receive Him with a humble and contrite heart.
The gospel continues, 30th -35th verse, of the 26th chapter:
And after reciting a hymn, they went out to Mount Olivet. And then Jesus said to them, :You will all be scandalized this night because of Me; for it is written: ‘I will smite the shepherd and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I have risen, I will go before you into Galilee.” And Peter answered and said to Him, “Even though all shall be scandalized because of you, I will never be scandalized.” Jesus said to him, “Amen, Amen, I say to you, this very night before the cock crows you will deny Me three times.” And Peter said to Him, “And even if I should have to die with you, I will not deny you.” And all the disciples said the same thing.
Disciples of Jesus and Mary are to become expert in self-abasement, reverence, and holy fear, detaching themselves, rooting out and rejecting earthly inclinations, restraining their passions, applying themselves in the divine light with living faith. They rejoice in the happiness of having God in this Holy Sacrament of Eucharist. Thus they participate in the fullness of the life, unity, and love that our divine Eucharistic Lord shares with us in giving us the gift of Himself. They realize that there is no reason for any of us to complain of weakness or passion, for the strength and health that we have in the Bread of Life gives us that whole measure of His maturity. It doesn't matter whether we are tempted and persecuted by the devil; by our frequent reception of our Divine Lord we overcome gloriously every evil so that all of our enemies fly in haste and pain when they come into His presence as we receive Him in the Eucharist.
Jesus now moves quickly from the Last Supper to the Garden of Olives which is only a short distance away through the Valley of Jehosephat. Here is St. Matthew’s gospel the 26th chapter, from the 36th-56th verse:
Then Jesus came with them to a country place called Gethsemani, and he said to His disciples, “Sit down here while I go over yonder and pray.” And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be saddened and exceedingly troubled. And then He said to them, “My soul is sorrowful, even unto death. Wait here, and watch with Me.” And going forward a little, He fell prostrate and prayed, saying ‘Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass away from me; yet not as I will, but as you will.”
And then He came to the disciples, and found them sleeping, and He said to Peter, “Could you not watch one hour with Me? Watch and pray, that you may not enter into temptation; The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” And again a second time He went away and prayed, saying, “My Father, if this cup cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.” And He came again and found them sleeping for their eyes were heavy. And leaving them He went back again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words over. And then He came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep on now and take your rest. Behold, the hour is at hand when the Son of Man will be betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise let us go. Behold, he who betrays me is at hand.”
And while He was yet speaking, behold Judas, one of the twelve, came and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now His betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “Whomever I kiss, that is He; lay hold of Him.” And he went straight up to Jesus, and said, “Hail, Rabbi!”, and he kissed Him. And Jesus said to him, “Friend, for what purpose have you come?” And then they came forward, and set hands on Jesus, and took Him.
And, behold one of those who was with Jesus reached out his hand, drew his sword, and struck the servant of the high priest’s, cutting off his ear. And then Jesus said to him, “Put back your sword into its place: for all those who take the sword will perish by the sword. Or do you not suppose that I cannot entreat my Father, and He will even now furnish me with more than twelve legions of angels? How then are the Scriptures to be fulfilled, that thus it must take place?
In that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “As against a robber you have come out with swords and clubs to seize me. And yet I sat daily with you in the temple teaching, and you did not lay hands on me.” Now all this was done that the Scriptures or the prophets might be fulfilled. And then all the disciples left him and fled.
As disciples of Jesus and Mary, you will share with Jesus in His agony in the Garden. You must be awake to the importance of prayer. You are called to prayer as your way of life through meditation, contemplation, biblical and liturgical prayers as well as other forms of community and personal prayer. You come to pray always and through this you will remain in union with God and in perfect fidelity to the will of Our Father.
In Jesus the will of God is accomplished on earth, as it is in heaven. To live in Jesus. is the very way, we must be drawn by Our Father and taught by the Spirit. We humbly adore and live every manifestation of the will of our Creator; for to adore Him is to rely on faith in His justice and mercy and the knowledge of His purpose, and the plan and wisdom of His rule.
Pray that you will be fed by Our Father, forgiving like Him. As you strive toward our Father's goodness and perfection, be in no way repelled by trials and conflicts, persecution and temptations; but rather desire to follow Christ in all things. Pray that you may be delivered from all evil as you strive after humility, realizing how unworthy you are of His graces and are still unprofitable servants. Know that the Lord, our God, regards our intention to serve Him to please Him and to be near Him, with great joy and delight. He is always faithful to us. We really have nothing that we have not been given.
The next teaching of Our Lord to the disciples is found in Mt
Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard: and a maidservant came up to him and said, “you were with Jesus the Galilean.” But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you are saying.” And when he had gone out of the gateway, another maid saw him, and said to those who were there, “This man was also with Jesus of Nazareth.” And again he denied it with an oath, “I do not know the man.” And after a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Surely you are one of them; even your speech betrays you.” Then he began to curse and to swear that he did not know the man. And at that moment a cock crowed. And Peter remembered the word that Jesus had said, “Before a cock crows, thou wilt deny me three times. “ And he went out, and wept bitterly.
Disciples of Jesus and Mary, when beset with natural fears and assaults of Lucifer or sin, turn to the Lord and to Our Lady, who will move our hearts and by means of their light, gently reproach us. They exhort us to acknowledge our fault and deplore our sin. Let us allege our frailty and appeal to the merits of Jesus and Mary and burst into the innermost sorrow over our sin. May we obtain God's pardon and peace, be moved by impulses and inspirations to holiness and be restored to grace. May the angels console us and excite in us the hope of forgiveness immediately whenever we fall, so that we will not delay His full pardon by want of trusting God's goodness. Through the intercession of Our Lady, mortify your senses and faculties with which we have sinned. Humiliate yourself to the very dust in Adam's fall, as guilty of sin and disobedience, and work and pray without ceasing to free yourself and all others from sin. The contrite and humble heart draws down mercy from the divine goodness of the Lord.
The next teaching of the Lord in discipleship in the Paschal Mystery, is the teaching and failure in the betrayal of Judas; this is found in Mt 27: 3-10.
Then Judas, who betrayed Him, when he saw that He was condemned, repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned in betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us, see to it yourself.” And he flung the pieces of silver into the temple, and withdrew, and went away and hanged himself with a halter.
And the chief priests took the pieces of silver, and said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, seeing that it is the price of blood.” And after they had consulted together, they bought with them the potter’s field, as a burial place for strangers. For this reason that field has been called, even to this day Hakeldama, that is the Field of Blood. Then what was spoken through Jeremiah, the prophet, was fulfilled.
“And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of Him who was priced, upon whom the children of Israel set a price; and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed.”
Disciples of Jesus and Mary are warned and filled with fear of the punishments awaiting all unfaithful disciples who betray the Lord, have contempt for the evangelical law, the sacraments, and the fruits of redemption. Instruments of divine justice will chastise the redeemed for their ingratitude toward their Redeemer, executing punishment on those members of the mystical body of Christ who sever their connection with their head, Christ, voluntarily drifting away and delivering themselves over to the hate and fury of the devil. Disciples consider well this truth and are moved in their hearts to avoid such a fate.
The next point of discipleship is found on the way of the cross in Mt 27: 32-33.
Now as they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, named Simon; him they forced to take up His cross And they came to the place called Golgotha, that is the place of the skull.
Disciples of Jesus and Mary adore Jesus ladened with the cross, desiring to carry it themselves and to die upon it for the love of Jesus and all mankind. Disciples cherish mercy in the midst of injury, know a charity without bounds in a love which speaks to the hearts and wills of men to teach them the price of their salvation and to return thanks for such a priceless gift.
The next witness of discipleship is found in Mt 27: 54.
Now when the centurion, and those who were with him, keeping guard over Jesus, saw the earthquake, and the things that were happening, they were very much afraid, and they said, “truly, He was the Son of God.”
Disciples of Jesus and Mary are moved by compassion and love with the afflicted and are forgetful of their own sorrow. They ask God to look on those who offend Him with eyes of mercy and to return blessings and gifts of grace for their offenses that they be given sight to be converted, and acknowledge and confess Jesus as God and Savior.
The next disciples to speak to the Paschal Mystery are those who are spoken of in the 55th and the 56th verses, 27th chapter:
And many women were there looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to Him: among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.
Disciples of Jesus and Mary are to remain one with Jesus, our crucified Savior, through our Lady's intercession and the grace of our eternal Father. They are nailed to the cross with Him in the spirit of the Evangelical Counsels: of obedience, poverty and chastity. Their spirit of obedience is that found in the relationships of the Trinity, and of Jesus, who was obedient even to the death on the cross. Their spirit of poverty leaves what is coveted by the eyes, and they vigorously struggle to identify with Christ - impoverished and despoiled upon the cross. Their spirit of chastity does not permit what is offensive in purity and they consecrate all the senses to chastity fixing them upon Jesus crucified. They consider in their hearts the image of the Son of Mary, our blessed Lord, full of blood, torments and sorrows, and finally nailed to the cross. They willingly enter the rough thorn-filled path to Calvary and accept the cross to carry it after Christ. Thus they walk the direct path to heaven and eternal happiness.
The final witness of discipleship to Jesus and His death is found in Mt 27: 57-61.
Now when it was evening, there came a certain rich man of Arimathea, Joseph by name, who was himself a disciple of Jesus; he went to Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus. And then Pilate ordered the body to be given up. Joseph taking the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his new tomb, which he had hewn out of the rock; and then he rolled a large stone at the entrance of the tomb, and departed. But Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the sepulcher.
In the death of Jesus, disciples confess Him as Son of God, as witnessed by the miracles of His life and death. They defend His innocence. They experience in their hearts the delight of the Holy Spirit. The powerful providence of God binds Himself to do good to some as with His disciples, Joseph and Nicodemus, by allowing them to share in the affliction of others; thus giving them an occasion to the practice of kindness so that those in need may be served. The disciple who serves to those in need, and their prayer in return for the benefactor, brings forth the reward of graces which they would not otherwise receive. Our Father of mercies inspires and assists the good work done; therefore the disciples correspond to His inspirations according to their ability and they realize that all that is truly good will come entirely from His hands.
The witness of the resurrection in the Paschal Mystery is found in Mt 28.
Now late in the night of the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the sepulcher. And, behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, and drawing near rolled back the stone and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment like snow; for fear of him the guards were terrified and became like dead men. But the angel spoke and said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you seek Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; He has risen, even as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord was laid. And go quickly, and tell His disciples that He has risen; and, behold, he goes before you into Galilee, and there you shall see Him. Behold, I have said it to you.” And they departed quickly from the tomb in fear and great joy; and ran to tell His disciples. And behold, Jesus met them, saying, “Hail.” And they came up and embraced His feet, and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and take word to My brethren that they are to set out for Galilee, and there they shall see me.“
Disciples of Jesus and Mary consider themselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus, our Lord. As disciples, be fervent in your vocation and constant in the graces you have received. Since you are chosen for His communication and friendship, your little faults weigh more serious in God's scales then greater faults in others. However, let not your faults and weaknesses and your lukewarmness in faltering love, withhold you from the knowledge and presence of your risen Savior. For you no longer live for yourselves but for Him, Who for your sake, died, and was raised up. We are born into this hope, which draws its life from the Resurrection.
The last teaching of discipleship is found in Mt 28:16-20 -the sharing of Jesus' mission with His disciples.
The eleven disciples made their way to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to meet Him. When they saw Him, they fell prostrate before Him, though some were doubtful. Jesus came up and spoke to them. He said: “Full authority in heaven and on earth has been committed to me. Go forth therefore and make all nations my disciples; baptize men everywhere in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all that I have commanded you. And be assured, I am with you always, to the end of time.”
Disciples of Jesus and Mary are called to go and make disciples of all the nations. They realize many follow the delights of darkness and few wish to hear and understand the way of light. Yet they are mindful that Divine Providence continues to call disciples to deny themselves of all that is passing away; ignoring and leaving it, having no desire for it and paying no attention to it. They desire to remain hidden and unknown guarding their treasure in secret. They imitate Mary in her life and works, her mysteries and virtues, even to following the way of her instructions. They prepare themselves to become disciples of Jesus by making their hearts a chosen soil to receive the holy and Living Word of God. They read the Holy Gospels continually, meditating, pondering and putting into practice the doctrines and mysteries of the evangelical life. They hear His voice calling them to the feast of His words of eternal life. They are called to the fullness of faith, to the mystery of His Redemption, "to run in the odor of His ointments", and to live by His truth.
Disciples of Jesus and Mary baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as the anawim of the Lord. They are thankful for all, for the sacrament of Baptism which frees them from the slavery of satan, fills them with grace, clothes them with justice and holiness and begins their Trinitarian life. Disciples of Jesus and Mary teach all that the Lord has commanded in the law of the Gospels. They live with Him in His mission as the Way, the Truth, the Life, and the Light where alone is found happiness for all men. They put out of their lives all that is passing away and fill their minds with all that the Holy Spirit gives them to be worthy of the blessings and promises of Jesus. In times of favor, affliction, and temptation their minds turn to the love of the Lord and zeal for His law that is written in their hearts. They weep for the sins of men against God and sorrow over the afflictions of others as their own. Thus they live intimately in the fullness of the love of God and neighbor.
Deacon John Purk