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March 29, 1996     The Message
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March 29, 1996

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I, 1996 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 9 " Oornmentary-- 00w's passion narrative: Specific characteristics Commentary for (Palm) : Matthew 26-14. r source of the passion narra- of Mark. He re- but sometimes a different direc- Besides repeating the Matthew also adds own. This material makes in the of the passion nar- Some idea of how suffering and death of Were some of the principles of his ,e. his interpretation of who and what function as Messiah and Son of By FATHER DON DILGER COLUMNIST the words of Jesus over blood of the covenant which is thew adds: "for the for- He seems to derive this phrase 17:11 where the Lord speaks to blood of sacrificial animals: "I have Upon the altar to make atonement for it is the blood that makes atone- life." Thus Matthew connects to Jesus' death on the cross, and One that atones for sins. What did say at the Last Supper, the Marcan version? There is no way of know- theology of Matthew, i.e. of Jesus' sharing of the cup Matthew decided to make more explicit what was implicit in the Marcan version., In the Gospel of Mark Jesus is totally vulnerable. In a sense Matthew follows this same theolog- ical idea. Both based the theme of vulnerability on the fourth Servant Song of Isaiah: "Like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that is mute before its shear- ers, so he did not open his mouth." Still, this is a bit much for Matthew. Thus the Matthean Jesus is not quite as helplessly vulnerable as he is in Mark. For example, when Judas gives the kiss of be- trayal in Mark, Jesus has no response. In Matthew he has at least a comment about it: "Friend, do what you are here for!" In other words, in Matthew's theology Judas succeeds because Jesus allows him to succeed in the betrayal. The same theme recurs in Jesus' arrest. One of Jesus' companions pulls a sword and cuts off the ear of the high priest's servant. Jesus has no response in Mark. In Matthew he tells the swordsman to put away his sword and adds: "Don't you think that I could appeal to my Father, and he would at once send more than twelve legions of angels?" In other words, Jesus is not helpless as he is in Mark. Matthew, ever intent on showing how Jesus fulfills the Scriptures adds his reason why Jesus did not ask for help: "ttow then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?" Mark's theme of Jesus' vulnerability is part of his theme of abandonment of Jesus, a theme that runs throughout his gospel. The climax of abandon- ment is reached for the Marcan Jesus in the awe- some cry of Jesus on the cross: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Although Luke refuses to use this Marcan ending, Matthew retains it, though he changes it from Mark's Aramaic lan- guage into Hebrew. It is in the aftermath of Jesus' death that Matthew goes well beyond Mark. Even Mark finally allowed a response of the Father to Jesus' death by the tearing of the temple veil. This is not enough for Matthew. There is an earthquake (one of four earthquakes in Matthew only). Rocks are solid. Even some of the dead are raised but Matthew adds rather quaintly that they stayed out- side the city until Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus' death in Matthew calls forth a more powerful divine response in line with Matthew's theology of the permissive power of Jesus during his suffering and death. He agreed to be betrayed by a trusted companion. He refused human and divine help for deliverance although human help was of- fered and diine help would have been offered had he asked for it. All was for a greater cause, the ful- fillment of God's plan for reconciliation with his creatures as outlined in the Scriptures. That plan included atonement for sin through the blood of Jesus, the blood that sealed a covenant of forgive- ness between God and his people. Besides these the- ological truths what could Matthew's interpretation of Jesus' suffering and death teach us? When suffer- ing and even death come into our lives, God may seem distant. It is God's permission that allows these things to happen to us. They may not have to be absolutely, but God's plan for us included them. When victory is achieved by following God's plan, we will know that God was not only present, but present in power and above all present in love. Readings: Isaiah 50:4- 7; Ph ilippians 2:6-11 MUENSTERMAN'S FIRESTONE SERVICE, INC. 1400 W. Franklin Evansville, IN 424-5000 ERSARY OFF SALE truss-rafters, lumber, DH windows, Wayne Allister operators, ing, dog kennels, Sale Runs From March 25 to April 6 OPEN HOUSE & Sausage Fry Sat., April 6 Only sq. shingles, metal roofing, and vinyl siding. nailing and hand saw contest on Saturday, to 1 p.m. for $100 bills. 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