This one word stands out at the peak and culmination of this year’s journey with Matthew’s Gospel. Over the course of the year, beginning last Advent, we have climbed Matthew’s mountain, celebrated with Matthew’s traumatised and exiled Jewish community the invitation to see Jesus as the new Moses who completes the Torah, all that is in the Law and the Prophets. More than that, Jesus calls out a community to live courageously serving, defiantly loving, calling for a world to be built on the principles of chesed (mercy) and shalom (a just peace).
Alexander Shaia (who will be visiting Perth in March) invites us to consider Matthew’s Gospel, as a first path of awareness, particularly when confronted with change that may well hide a divine summons to fuller living. We move through shock, unease and unsettledness to pronounce a final “Yes!”
The Gospel of Matthew provided the fledgling church with a handbook drawn on Hebrew heritage but recasting old and wise ways for a newly expanded world opened by the life, teaching, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, who says “Lo, I am with you… to the end of the age.”
Where is he to be found? Today’s climactic parable of the separation of sheep and goats tells us in one word – “Inasmuch!” Inasmuch as you regarded and served with dignity the most humble person, you did the same for Jesus. This is the summit of the mountain.