How does Matthew let us know that Jesus is "Special?"

By Paul Dion, STL

We know a lot about the life of Jesus as an adult. We know that He gathered people around Himself and preached to them with authority. The story of Jesus' infancy in Matthew has a lot of indicators about where the source of this authority lies. I expect that many of you will point to the genealogy that is the hallmark of Matthew's gospel.

There are several other markers in the story that point to some of Yahweh's strongest "messiahs" (anointed ones) and to some of the Chosen People's most glorious, and notorious, adventures that are experienced by Jesus, Mary and Joseph in the first two chapters of Matthew.

These experiences are God's work fashioning the Son into the complete, authoritative incarnation of Himself, the fulfillment of His announcing that this child will be Emmanuel, Jesus (Joshua in Hebrew), the one who saves.

Here is this week's burning question: How does Matthew let us know that Jesus is "Special?"

Discuss the symbolism of the "Adventures of Jesus, Mary and Joseph" in the first two chapters of Matthew.

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    Matthew is telling us what God wants us to know about how Jesus fulfilled the divine promises of the Old Testament. Matthew is building a Jesus from the faith that we all have because we know Jesus as the resurrected Christ.

    Matthew is convinced that we have to be able to connect the Law, the adventures of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Isaac, Jacob, David, Solomon, the Judges, the Kings, the Prophets and all the other holy people with our contemporary life. Matthew knows that we connect intimately with the childhood history of famous people. When we know what their home town is, what their parents did for a living, who their relatives were, we are more attracted to the famous person whom we love.

    So Matthew doesn't want to leave us with the story of a grown man with no roots. He knows that it is important to teach us how Jesus was brave enough to go all the way to the Cross for our sake. He knows that it is important for us to connect to the history that was taught to Jesus as he was growing up so that we can better connect to Him and His Father by believing in the Resurrection.

    Matthew wants us to know that Jesus was royalty. Matthew wants us to know that the "blue" blood in Jesus came not only from God but from his human lineage as well. Jesus had this toughness about Him because because He knew that He was royalty.

    He knew that His ancestor was David, the great covenanted one who saved the Israelites from the Philistines. He knew that David was given the Temple as a sign of the covenant between the Jews and their God. He therefore knew that he had no reason to fear the officials of the Temple. He knew that He was from deeper Temple roots than the Scribes, the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Matthew knew that he had to tell us the story of Jesus' roots if we were going to believe in the complete Christ.

    It is therefore important for us to read the story of the Nativity as told by Matthew with the stories of Genesis and Exodus in the back of our mind. It is important for us to know that the holy family went to Egypt to protect themselves, just as Abraham and Jacob's family had done to ascape the famine. It is important for us to know that Jesus "escaped" from Egypt like His people did to come back to the land of promise.

    St. Matthew reminds us that in Jesus Christ we have a complete capsule of the history of the Chosen People. God saves not only those who came after Jesus Christ, but all the saints who came before and dedicated their lives to keep their share of God's vow to them through Moses, "I will be your God and you will be my people."

    If you think that this answer is too late to be timely and significant, think again. We will hear this story again during the Easter week-end. True we will hear it from the Resurrection aspect, but please remember that it remains the same story. We'll be hearing it again in about 12 weeks. Stay tuned.