GOSPEL, FIRST READING & PSALM TRANSCRIPT (Subscribe or Login for Full Transcript):
Now, Matthew at this point in the account of the Gospel, steps in and he tells us the reason this happened was the fulfillment of Scripture:
This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt have I called my son.” (Matthew 2:15b)
Now, that quotation there is from the book of Hosea. And in Hosea chapter 11:1, Hosea is speaking of the son as Israel, the collective people of Israel, and of the exodus of Israel from the land of Egypt—which took place of course at the time of Moses. So sometimes interpreters are puzzled by the application of this verse to the Holy Family, because in its original context, Hosea is not talking about the king of Israel—the Messiah, the Son of God—he’s talking about the people of God being brought out of Egypt.
But the way Matthew’s applying the verse is according to what scholars call typology. In other words, he’s evoking the memory of the exodus from Egypt of the whole people of Israel at the time of Moses as a way of helping us to see that the birth of Jesus isn’t just a fulfillment of prophecies of the coming of the king, but it’s also the inauguration of a kind of new exodus. And that’s something we’re going to see as we walk through the Gospel of Matthew. Throughout the course of Year A, one of the key themes of the Gospel of Matthew is going to be the fulfillment of the prophecies of a new exodus—which basically amounts to the expectation that Jews had in the first century AD—that when God would save His people at the time of the Messiah, that it would be similar to the way He had saved His people at the time of Moses in the exodus from Egypt. There are going to be parallels between the two.
So the parallel here is, just as God called Israel out of Egypt and identified the people of Israel as His son...in Exodus 4:22, God says, “Israel is my first born son. Therefore, Pharaoh, let my people go.” So the whole reason for the exodus from Egypt is that Israel, the people of Israel, is God’s adoptive son. And God says to Pharaoh, “If you don’t let my son go, then your sons will die”...which is exactly what happens in the Passover.
So think about that—why is Matthew echoing that? Well, any first century Jew would know the reason for the exodus in part was because there was a wicked pagan king—the pharaoh—who was slaughtering the innocent sons of the Israelites at the beginning of the book of Exodus. And so God raises up Moses, the deliverer, to set them free. So the same thing’s happening now with a different king. Now we’ve got a half pagan wicked king—Herod—who’s trying to destroy all of the Israelite boys in Bethlehem so that he can execute the redeemer, the deliverer, the new Moses, which is the baby Jesus.
And just as Moses’ family—Miriam and his parents—saved the first redeemer, Moses, from the hands of the wicked king Pharaoh who was slaughtering the infants...so too now Joseph and Mary—the Holy Family—are going to save the new Moses, the infant Jesus, from the hands of the wicked King Herod. So there’s a kind of recapitulation of the events of salvation history from the Old Testament to the New Testament. They’re not identical. That’s how typology works. There’s similarity and difference. I think it was Mark Twain who said, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” And that’s how typology works as well. It’s not repetition, it’s recapitulation. It’s fulfilling the old and then making it new as well.
SECOND READING TRANSCRIPT (Subscribe or Login for Full Transcript):
The second reading is from Colossians, it is from one of the letters of St. Paul.
And because it's a feast day and not ordinary time, it is thematically linked to the other readings for the day.
In this case it's focused on St. Paul's teaching for the Christian family from his letter to the Colossians 3:12-21.
This a beautiful, beautiful passage.
You can find a similar passage in Ephesians 5, that's the more famous version of Paul's teaching for families, but every year at Christmas time the Church puts this particular passage before us to give us an image of not what Old Testament family life looks like, but what Christian family life looks like in the new covenant.
So listen to these words of wisdom from St. Paul.
He says this:
Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience, forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Aright, pause there for a second.
What has Paul just done? He's given us a list of all the major Christian virtues: compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness (that means gentleness), patience, forgiveness, harmony and above all love (agape).
Now why does the Church give us that?
Do you think perhaps the Church knows that living life in a family is not easy and that is easy to be unkind, impatient, prideful, lacking forgiveness, not having harmony, having discord?
Yeah, the Church knows that all of those things afflict family life, especially modern family life, where there has been such a breakdown of the family.
So it is wonderful that the Church is giving us this vision of the kind of virtues we need to cultivate if we are going to have peace and harmony in the family.
Above all forgiveness, as well as patience with one another, forbearing one another; because families are going to hurt one another.
You hurt the people that you are closest to so easily.
We need these admonitions from St. Paul to show us the kind of virtue that we have to intentionally cultivate in our family life if we are going to have happiness in our home.
Especially gratitude, there notice, it is so easy to complain all the time about the difficulties of family life.
Well what does Paul say?
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” and do everything with thankfulness.
Do everything with thanksgiving in your heart, praising God for the many blessings that come with family life.
Now I could stop there and get off easy, but I won't because the next verses are some more challenging verses.
And I have done a full presentation on this on a CD called Wives Do What?! Ephesians 5 & St. Paul's Life-Changing Vision of the Christian Family.
You can check that out if you want an hour long discussion of the implications of this passage, but for now I want to just keep it short and sweet and highlight here that Paul brings his discussion of the Christian family to a close by giving specific exhortations to four groups: wives, husbands, children and fathers.
This is what he says in these last verses...
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