Tuesday Bible Study
Who: You! Everyone is welcome!
What: Weekly sessions to investigate the Gospel according to Saint Matthew, roughly one chapter per week.
When: Every Tuesday evening, starting at 7:30 pm. The bible study will start in September 2017 and continue into the spring of 2018.
Where: The parish center at the Church of Saint Rocco in the St. Luke classroom.
Why: The Gospel of Matthew is the first book of the New Testament and also the most quoted Gospel in the non-canonical literature of early Christianity. This Gospel follows the key events in the life of Christ and incorporates His key teachings. The Gospel includes unique elements and some of the most famous accounts not found in other Gospels. Tradition holds that it was written by an eye-witness, the apostle and tax-collector Matthew, who walked with Jesus and heard his teaching. Its authority ultimately comes from the truth that it is the inspired Word of God. Through it, God has chosen to reveal Himself to us in unique ways.
How: It is quite easy! Just show up with a curious mind! Feel free to bring a notepad, pen, your Bible, family, and friends. You can experience the beauty of God’s Word by delving into this text with other Christians under the instruction of the Canons of St. Patrick's and St. Rocco's. All are welcome!
Weekly Summary Updates - for those who have to miss a class
Update from Nov 28: Father Gabriel discussed the 6th and 7th chapters of St Matthew's gospel. Christ repeatedly admonishes His disciples to center all of their lives around Him. Father Gabriel used a clever analogy in comparing the way we so often run our lives--with ourselves and our interests or false beliefs at the center--with the Ptolemaic model of the solar system. The very first principle is off with that system--the earth is not at the center! Everything becomes much more elegant, simpler, and most importantly, truer if the sun is placed at the center of the solar system. So too, if our foundational principle with regard to our life is off, we're going down the wrong path! God always needs to be first, and then all else will fall into place. We also discussed at length the difference between judging actions and judging people (as if we were God). Our Lord's saying "Judge not, lest you be judged" does not refrain us from making judgments as to the sinfulness of people's actions; rather, it forbids us in making individual judgment calls on people in our lives. The old maxim, "hate the sin, but love the sinner" always holds! In such cases of difficulty where people we know or love may be sinning, we should pray for the patience to tolerate evil. Tolerance of evil does not mean the same thing as acceptance of it! Please join us next week as we continue our lively and enlightening discussion of the Gospel.
Update from Nov 21: At this class, Father Daniel gave a fun and tangential lesson in which we covered about one verse! It was verse 22: "But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, ‘Raqa,’ will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna." Gehenna was a place outside of Jerusalem where refuse was dumped and burned. So Jesus is saying "If you do this, you'll end up in a smelly, dumpy place that is miserable." Father Daniel went on to discuss the following verses in which Jesus advises that one must seek forgiveness before making an offering in the temple. Ritual impurities were a big issue then, and he is saying that these impurities come from the inside. It is not something on the outside that makes one impure, but the actions and thoughts that come from inside a person. That is why you must seek forgiveness, rather than focusing on external washing - because no matter how physically clean you are, you cannot love God without loving your neighbor.
Update from Nov 14: Father Daniel led us deeper into the study of St. Matthew's Gospel. We picked up where we left off in chapter 5, and we spent some time discussing what Christ may have meant when he called His disciples the "salt of the earth" and the "light of the world". By granting us, His disciples, these titles, he calls us constantly to an elevated life of responsibility and a renouncement of our former godless or misguided ways. As the salt of the earth, we must make the people in our world "thirsty" for the love of Christ. If we fail to respond to Christ's call, we are "good for nothing except to be thrown out and trodden underfoot". This saying of Christ's is a sobering but powerful summation of the duty of the Christian life and of witness for Our Lord. Please join us next week as we continue studying the Sermon on the Mount discourse!
Update from Oct 24: Father Daniel led us in a close examination of the Beatitudes. We looked especially at the words and language St Matthew used in order to overcome the familiarity with the sometimes too-often quoted "Blessed are..." phrases. Father Daniel reminded us that the language used in the Gospels is often very forceful and fresh- a fact that can be forgotten due to one's familiarity with the passages (not to mention the sometimes clouded meaning due to a translation). "Blessed" can be translated as "fortunate", a word that carries far more power to us today. Similarly, the phrase "poor in spirit" can be taken to mean "lacking in breath", a meaning which carries far greater implications when we consider that the Holy Spirit is the Breath who fills each of us- especially when we are gasping for air and asking for His Presence. We were also reminded that the Kingdom of God begins here and now on this earth, and cannot be taken to solely mean our future home in Heaven. We once again saw the parallels between the Old Testament and the New, with Jesus as the Living Word giving the New Law on the Mount, as Moses brought the Law to the Israelites upon Mount Sinai. So much is covered at each Bible Study that it would be impossible to give a synopsis of it all. If you have the opportunity, be sure to come next class for the continuance of the account of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount.
Update from Sept 19: At our second meeting, on September 19th, Father Elias illuminated our minds to the importance of the genealogy of Jesus Christ given at the start of Matthew's Gospel. What was once a long list of names became to us a tapestry of stories, places, and persons with their triumphs and faults woven together to form the family Christ chose. We learned that this account presents a historical progression, not a strict record, with certain men and women included for specific reasons - to affirm Jesus's role as the Messiah and draw connections with the Old Testament, establishing Christ's place in our story of salvation. We also discovered the harmony between the seemingly contradictory genealogy accounts in Matthew's and Luke's gospels - if you're interested, visit jimmyakin.com/the-genealogies-of-Christ-2 to learn more and for a helpful chart. At the next meeting, we will be celebrating "Christmas in September" as we read Saint Matthew's account of the infancy narrative. Meet us in the second-to-last classroom of St Rocco's Parish Center at 7:30 pm this Tuesday.