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A great new read: St Matthew’s Gospel

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A great new read: St Matthew’s Gospel

This Sunday, as we start a new liturgical year we leave behind us St Luke’s Gospel and take up in its place that of St Matthew.

His is the Gospel written for Jews which demonstrates time and time again that Jesus is the fulfilment of the prophets and is the promised Messiah.  He points to Jesus’ Kingship and to his Kingdom.  Matthew is interested in Jesus’ second coming, the last things and judgement.  We also find in him an interest in the development of Church.  Above all, of course, Matthew’s Gospel contains vast amounts of Jesus’ oral teaching.

We know how good it is to read scripture slowly, to let the words we read sink in and take effect.  We know how beneficial it is to take a small passage for our meditation and we’ve explored (at least here and here) different ways of doing this.  We have a whole year ahead of us in which we can apply all those ‘slowly-slowly’ techniques to all that Matthew has to offer…

However, at this particular point in the liturgical year, it can be quite beneficial to do the opposite.  As John Huntriss pointed out during our Diary of God course, if we only ever read the Gospel a little at a time, we can lose out by not having a good sense of the whole.  Reading the Gospel of St Matthew quickly (in one go if you have those spare hours, or at least over a fairly short time like one week) can enable us to immerse ourselves in St Matthew’s style and voice.  It shows us the close juxtaposition of material that otherwise (eg liturgically) we experience weeks or even months apart.

Let’s take some time in the few days we have before Advent begins, then, to re-familiarise ourselves with St Matthew’s Gospel*, to read it through like an ‘unputdownable’ novel and let Matthew’s Gospel surprise us, entice us, delight and challenge us and above all, lead us closer to Christ.

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* If there’s an introduction to the Gospel (or to the Synoptics in general) in your Bible, read that too.  It sounds obvious, but they’re often overlooked yet short and interesting!

NB: This is a re-post.  I first published it on this website on 24-11-2010. 

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