The Cathedral Connection 22 December 2019

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ST MATTHEW’S GOSPEL

In Matthew’s infancy narrative, unlike Luke’s, it is Joseph who is the key character, and Matthew’s gospel surrounds the story with a great many allusions and quotations from the Old Testament.

For the people of Israel, Joseph was a significant figure – and Matthew draws out aspects that would be important for his Jewish Christian readers. Joseph is a beloved son who is rejected by his brothers and sold for silver and yet who turns out to be the saviour of his people.

These echoes of Jesus’ own mission help set the scene – as does the fact that Joseph is called the man of dreams and Joseph the husband of Mary has several dreams in which God communicates his plan to him. Joseph is regularly referred to as ‘Son of David’, a term that is applied to Jesus above all in Matthew’s Gospel.

These constant allusions remind us that we are in the place where God is at work and God’s work of salvation can be recognised by these common patterns. If we look to the writings of Paul or of the Evangelist John, there are often very striking theological statements that articulate the faith.

Matthew does something more subtle that his readers would recognise – by constantly touching on the familiar language and concepts of the Jewish faith he reveals the working of the God who has always been there for God’s people, and who is still working in similar ways.

Fr Ron.

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