Thursday, 29 July 2010

Lazarus Martha Mary

29 July,
This Memorial  is marked in our Cistercian Rite.
The General Sanctoral Calendar has the Memorial names only St. Martha.
The Cistercian Prayer after Communion mention Lazarus, Martha and Mary as the Saints by whom we grow in sincere love for you in this life,
and for ever be gladdened by your presence in heaven.

As Jesus entered a certain village, a woman called Martha welcomed him into her house. [see Lk 10,38]

Heavenly Father,
your Son called Lazarus from the grave
and sat at table in the house of Bethany.
May we serve him faithfully in our sisters and brothers
and with Mary ponder and feed upon his word.
Grant . . .

Heavenly Father,
may this sharing in the body and blood of your only-begotten Son
lessen our taste for all passing things.
By the example of your saints,
Lazarus, Martha and Mary,
may we grow in sincere love for you in this life,
and for ever be gladdened by your presence in heaven.
Grant this through Christ our Lord Cistercian Ritual - Ordo
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Our sincere thanks to the Editor. We express our ever growing appreciation of the outstanding work by the team of MAGNIFICAT –

To “seek first the kingdom of God” among life's daily activities is a constant challenge for the spiritual life. One Gospel passage that invites us to fix our gaze on Christ comes from the tenth chapter of Luke. There Christ is welcomed into the home of two sisters, Mary and Martha. Jan Vermeer, tile master painter from Delft, bathes this domes­tic scene in radiant light and deep shadows. The immediacy of Vermeer's composition is a visual invitation into the home of Mary and Martha. There we too taste not only the hospitality of these friends of Jesus, but the wisdom they savor in the presence of their Divine Guest.   

Treasure Hidden, Pearl of Price

Greatest Treasure of Great Value
Readings. Jer. 15:10, 16-21
Mt. 13: 44-46
To day the Bible Readings speak about the greatest treasure of great value.
In the first reading: the prophet Jeremiah found his treasure in preaching the Word of God. As a consequence, he suffered abuse and offense. God tells Jeremiah to take his call as a challenge and trust God and He’ll be with him. 
In the second reading: Jesus tells two parables about the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God being like a treasure hidden in the field and the Kingdom of God is like a pearl of great value.
The treasure in the field was hidden and therefore they needed concentration and discerning eye to find the treasure. The Gospel challenges us who is the Kingdom of God and it also challenges us what is our response to that Kingdom of God.
The Catechism teaches us (CCC 2816) the Kingdom of God means Christ Himself. Jesus said, “The Kingdom of God is in you”.
The Kingdom of God has arrived in Incarnation, Passion, death and Resurrection of Jesus and therefore Jesus says, “Seek first the Kingdom” (Mt. 6:33) and his righteousness and all things will be given to you as well”. What we are asked to do is to give first place in our hearts to Jesus.
The Gospel says when these two people found out the treasure and the pearl of enormous value of joy, they sold everything they owned and acquired it. Contrast this with the rich young man Jesus met who was unable to give away all he possessed and went away sorrowful. (Mt. 19:22).
-                     Let us look at the Saints in heaven. When they experienced the sweetness of the Lord, they sacrificed everything in order to gain heaven and the eternal life the pearl of enormous value which Christ wants to offer to them.
-                     Jesus, the Kingdom of God comes to us in the Eucharist. Our response to Him would be, “ Lord, you are my treasure, my pearl, my delight of soul, my life, my salvation and my only hope.
-                     Help me to meet life’s demands. Amen.
Fr. Santosh

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

'Father' (Lord's Prayer Lk 11:2)


Thank you, William.
Your reading of the book highlights some of the path of this “Jesus of Nazareth”. Benedict XVI is unique among so many ‘lives’ of Jesus.
And, as you say, it is he is the perfect introduction for the Pope’s visit to Scotland
From: William J
Subject: Pope Benedict's book - one (or more) gems
Dear Father Donald,

It is a delight to see Joseph Ratzinger's text from "Jesus of Nazareth" on your Blog. What a perfect introduction to Pope Benedict's visitation to read of his exquisite reflections on Jesus. There is a wonderful directness in his writing, as if he were speaking directly to us.

May I just share one other 'gem' from his book. Writing on the "Our Father", he takes us first to Luke's text (Sunday's Gospel), before studying the fuller text of Matthew's Gospel, and the reason for this - is beautiful: the highlighting is mine...

"Luke prefaces the Lord's Prayer with the following remark: Jesus "was praying in a certain place, and when he ceased, one of his disciples said to him, 'Lord, teach us to pray..' " (Lk 11:1). .. The fact that Luke places the Our Father in the context of Jesus' own praying is significant. Jesus thereby involves us in his own prayer; he leads us into the interior dialogue of triune love; he draws our human hardships deep into God's heart, as it were. This also means, however, that the words of the Our Father are signposts to interior prayer, they provide a basic direction for our being, and they aim to configure us to the image of the Son... to train us in the inner attitude of Jesus... We must strive to recognise the thoughts Jesus wished to pass on to us in these words, but we must also keep in mind that the Our Father originates from his own praying, from the Son's dialogue with the Father."
My highlights bring me to the 'gem' of thought - that Jesus can hardly be more present to us in prayer than by inviting us to pray with him.
The reflections that flow from Pope Benedict's reflections capture the mind directly... the Our Father is always a prayer of Jesus and communion with him is what opens it up for us... [Father] the Our Father does not project a human image onto heaven, but shows us from heaven - from Jesus - what we as human beings can and should be like... if earthly fatherhood divides, hevenly fatherhood unites..[Our] overcomes all boundaries and makes us one family..[Hallowed be Thy Name] God establishes a relationship between himself and us, putting himself within reach of our invocation.. he enters into a relationship with us and enables us to be in relationship with him...he assumes the risk of relationship, of communion, with us - and the more he gives himself into our hands, the more we can obscure his light.. [Thy Kingdom come] the first and essential thing is a listening heart, so that God, not we, may reign...Jesus is the Kingdom of God in person, and the Kingdom of God is present wherever he is present... this request, for a listening heart, becomes a request for communion with Jesus Christ, the petition that we increasingly become 'one' with him...[Thy Will be done.. as in Heaven]...the essence of 'heaven' is that it is where God's will is unswervingly done. Or, where God's will is done is heaven... Earth becomes 'heaven' when and insofar as God's will is done there...

As you may guess, I can't halt my pencil from jotting quotes when I read such words!
… in Our Lord,

Book of Job

Job 31:1-8.13-23.35-37

It was turn for me as Reader of the 2nd Nocturn of Night Office. It was from the writings of Saint Gregory the Great
(Moralia in Job 22, 17: PL 76, 237-238) and earlier it made difficult reading. It became more clear in the public reading.
That suggested checking how St. Gregory on Job might show up in Blogs. And sure enough it uncovered another unexpected Resource, aptly called
“Summa Minutiae” - Patristics
[A facility for quotation covers the absence of original thought.—Lord Peter Wimsey].

Year II  Second Reading
From the writings of Saint Gregory the Great
(Moralia in Job 22, 17: PL 76, 237-238)
(This passage translation 1999 Friends of Henry Ashworth)

Job seeks a helper
After revealing his sublime feats of heroism the saintly Job seeks a helper, knowing as he does that his own merits do not avail for him to reach the highest peak. And on whom indeed does he rest his gaze but the only-begotten Son of God, who took a human nature, labouring in mortality, and in so doing brought nature his saving help? For he it was who, once made man, brought us men his help so that, since the way back to God did not lie open to man, left to himself, it might become so through God-made-man. We are a long way from being just and immortal, unjust and mortal as we are. But between him who is immortal and just and us, who are neither the one nor the other, the Mediator of God and man has appeared: and he is both mortal and just, having death in common with men and justice with God. And because through our baseness we are far from the heights he occupies, he joins in his own person the lowest with the highest, to make a way for us back to God, so combining the highest with the lowest. 

Monday, 26 July 2010

COMMENT Jesus of Nazareth

COMMENT - LATER there follows the passage from the book, 'Jesus of Nazareth'

by Pope Benedict XVI.
Matthew 12:43-45

From: William J …
Sent: Tue, 20 July, 2010 21:24:43
Subject: Mtt 12: 47 omission / Joseph Ratzinger
Dear Father Donald,
… (Pope Benedict -referring directly to verse 47).
While reading (Joseph Ratzinger's) Pope Benedict's book, "Jesus of Nazareth", and relating to this passage, he has a very interesting comment (on which he expands, page 112ff, having written on the Sermon on the Mount). He writes of Israel's view of the Fourth Commandment anchoring the heart of the social order, the rationale for Israel's social existence, saying that this is exactly the connection that Jesus calls into question (when Jesus is "told that his mother and brothers are outside"... referring directly to verse 47). Pope Benedict writes that while the Torah presents a very definite social order, discipleship of Jesus offers no politically concrete program for structuring society, saying that Jesus' new interpretation of the fourth commandment affects not only the parent-child relation, but the entire scope of the social structure of the people of Israel. His analysis is very penetrating... but it is his inclusion of verse 47 that weights in favour of the inclusion for me of the missing verse!

% % % % % % % % % % % % % % % % % %

Jesus of Nazareth
by Pope Benedict xvi 2007

The Fourth Commandment: The Family, the People, and the Community of Jesus’ Disciples (pp.112-123)
"Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you" (Ex 20:12 )-this is the version of the fourth commandment that is given in the Book of Exodus. The commandment is addressed to sons and it speaks of parents. It thus strengthens the relationship between generations and the community of the family as an order both willed and protected by God. It speaks of the land and of the stable continuance of life in the land. In other words, it connects the land, as the place for the people to live, with the basic order of the family. It binds the continued existence of people and land to the coexistence of the generations that is built up within the family structure.
Now, Rabbi Neusner rightly sees this commandment as anchoring the heart of the social order, the cohesion of the "eternal Israel"- this real, living, ever-present family of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob, Leah, and Rachel (pp. 58, 70). According to Neusner, it is this family of Israel that is threatened by Jesus' message, and the foundations of Israel's social order are thrust aside by the primacy of his person. "We pray to the God we know, to begin with, through the testimony of our family, to the God of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Leah and Rachel. So to explain who we are, eternal Israel, sages appeal to the metaphor of genealogy .... to the fleshly connection, the family, as the rationale for Israel's social existence" (p. 58).
But this is exactly the connection that Jesus calls into question. He is told that his mother and brothers are outside waiting to speak to him. His answer: "Who is my mother and who are my brothers?" And he stretches out his hand over his disciples and says: "Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, and sister, and mother" (Mt 12:46-50).
Faced with this text, Neusner asks: "Does Jesus not teach me to violate one of the two great commandments .... that concern the social order?" (p. 59). The accusation here is a twofold one. The first problem is the seeming individualism of Jesus' message. While the Torah presents a very definite social order, giving the people a juridical and social framework for war and peace, for just politics and for daily life, there is nothing like that to be found in Jesus' teaching. Discipleship of Jesus offers no politically concrete program for structuring society. The Sermon on the Mount cannot serve as a foundation for a state and a social order, as is frequently and correctly observed. Its message seems to be located on another level. Israel's ordinances have guaranteed its contin­ued existence through the millennia and through all the vicissitudes of history, yet here they are set aside. Jesus' new interpretation of the fourth commandment affects not only the parent-child relation, but the entire scope of the social structure of the people of Israel.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Hermit Pere Peyriguere

News from Our Lady of Atlas Morocco
The hermit of Morroco Pere Peyriguere is of great interest.

See the ppt Power Point:

Thanks to the Cistercian monks of the community of Midelt, Morocco.


Disciple du P. de Foucauld

Les frères de l'Atlas sont heureux de vous faire part de leur joie et de leur action de grâces d'avoir pu accueillir dans l'enceinte de leur monastère à Midelt, le 20 Juillet 2010 :



French to English translation


Disciple P. de Foucauld

The brothers NDde Atlas are happy to share their joy and thanksgiving of them have been able to showcase the confines of their monastery in Midelt, July 20, 2010:

Father Albert Peyriguère

Died April 26, 1959

El-Kbab (in the Middle Atlas)

This is our church who we entrust with these words of our Archbishop Vincent Landel Father: "His place is with you ... you live in continuity"

But who is the Father Peyriguère?

A priest from the diocese of Bordeaux, born in 1883 ... Seriously wounded several times in the War of 1914-1918, is in a period of convalescence and rest until he discovers the Father de Foucauld's book published by Rene Bazin 1921 ... Now its way of life is all mapped out .... "This will best achieve the ideal of Foucauldian spirituality."

Arriving in Morocco in 1928, he first wanted to "experiment" for 15 years, then "teaching" the message of Charles de Foucauld. A good start drafting work is never finished: the poor without ever knocking at his door for medical care or warm clothing during the harsh winters in the Middle Atlas mountains ..

"Caring and dress" the day he was left with that night to pray ... to beg. His whole life was "eaten", "eaten", "sucked" - as he put it - by the poor. He, an intellectual, one day a "finger on" that have done good to the smallest of its brothers of the mountain was more handsome and taller than writing pages of genius on the topics most high and most exciting ...

"There is no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends," said Jesus. This is what the Father Peyriguère.

The heart worn by many labors and austerities, he entered the hospital in Casablanca, April 20, 1959 and died Sunday, April 26 to 15 hours. At the time of his burial in the middle of a crowd of mountaineers in tears, a young person read this poem of farewell:

"The marabout had no wife or children, and all his family were poor. All men were his brothers. He gave food to the hungry. He dressed people who were naked. It cared for the sick. He defended those who were unjustly treated. He welcomed those who were homeless. All his family were poor. all men were his brothers.

- God be merciful to him!

For those who want to better know the Father Peyriguère:

• His biography was written by his successor in El Kbab for 40 years, Father Michel Lafon:

"Father Peyriguère"

Editions du Seuil - 1963

• The spirituality

Especially: "Let Christ take hold of you"

For editions of the "Centurion"

(7 editions in French and other languages: German, Catalan, Italian, Spanish, English, Dutch)

• A Slideshow of the brother of Jose Luis Atlas. You can view it through this link:

Contribute a better translation

©2010 Google


Sunday 25 July 2010
LUKE 11:1-13

The Disciples asked ‘Lord teach us to pray’ and he says, ‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. …’
Luke is today’ Gospel, at other times it is Matthew, as it is called ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ – as it fits with ‘The Lord’s Day’, our Sabbath.
The great Jesuit scholar said, “At Mass, all prayer is addressed to the Father through the Son and in the Holy Spirit, that is it is always the Father who appears to us as the source of every gift: “Every good endowment and every perfect gift from above, coming down from the Father of lights…” (Jas 1:17). In his presence we feel our unworthiness, but also the permanent possibility that we shall be heaped with good things.
In the days this week that great Hebrew name came to mind, SHEKINAK, Shekinah Glory. It is all about the presence of God. The Israelites departed from Egypt and guarded and guided by the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire of the Presence.
In our own austere chapel we have our Shekinah. When we visit the Blessed Sacrament in the dawn or the dusk the light plays above the tabernacle.
The history of Salvation fills the history of the Presence.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Saint Sharbel Makhluf

Saturday 24th July 2010


We prayed for the people of Lebanon through intercession of Saint Sharbel Makhluf.


Born in 1828, Sharbel Makhluf was a monk and priest
of the Lebanese Maronite Order in Annaya, Lebanon,
who spent many hours praying
before the Blessed Sacrament.
He later lived as a hermit of his order.
He celebrated Mass close to noon
so as to devote the morning to preparation,
and the rest or the day to thanksgiving.
He died in 1898.

Entrance Antiphon

Spirit of God is upon me; he has anointed me. He sent me to bring good news to the poor and to heal the broken hearted. (Lk 4: 18)

Opening Prayer

God our Father,
in Saint Sharbel Makhluf, you gave
a light to your faithful people.
You made him a pastor of the Church
to feed your sheep with his word
and to teach them by his example.
Help us by his prayers to keep the faith he taught
and follow the way of life he showed us.

Grant this through our Lord …

Friday, 23 July 2010

Bridget a Patron of Europe

St. Bridget of Sweden was born in 1303 and died on July 23rd, 1373. Her father, Birger, was the royal prince of Sweden and her mother, Ingeborg, was a very pious woman. She received attentive religious training from a young age and liked to meditate on the Passion of Christ. In 1316, at age thirteen, she was married to Ulf Gudmarsson, who was eighteen. St. Bridget and her husband had eight children, the youngest of whom later became St. Catherine of Sweden.  

Thursday, 22 July 2010

St Mary Magdalene

22 July

St Mary Magdalene Memorial Mass

Mary at first did not recognize the risen Jesus in the garden. She knew him when he spoke her name. Her great love bursts forth, echoing the first reading, "I took hold of him and would not let him go".

Jesus says, "Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father". Their now entirely new relationship is a much deeper one. It rests in faith rather than physical contact.

At first, the apostles did not believe Mary. Christ's followers, even today, meet disbelief in their witness to the Resurrection.

Opening Prayer

Father, your Son first entrusted to Mary Magdalene the joyful news of his resurrection.

By her prayers and example

may we proclaim Christ as our living Lord and one day see him in glory,

for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Prayer after Communion

Father, may the sacrament we have received fill us with the same faithful love

that kept Mary Magdalene close to Christ, who

Fr. Nivard

History of Mary Magdalene

For centuries, Christians have wondered about the real identity of this woman who was beloved by Jesus. Many false ideas about Magdalene persist today. For example, early church fathers incorrectly identified her with the sinful woman who anointed Christ's feet at the house of Simon the Pharisee, but there is nothing in the Bible to support this view and much to dispute it.
Others wrongly believed that she was Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. We may never know details about Mary Magdalene, but Bible gives us clues about her importance as a significant leader of early Christianity. According to the Gospel of John, after Jesus' resurrection, he first appeared to Mary Magdalene and not to Peter. In other scriptures, her name is first in the list of witnesses (Mk. 16:1-11; Mt. 28:1; Lk. 24:10; Jn. 20:11-18; 1 Cor. 15:5-8). As Mary wept in the garden where Jesus was buried, she did not recognize Jesus until he called her name. Her encounter with Christ that first Easter morning was the inspiration of the popular hymn, "I Come to the Garden." One tradition concerning Mary Magdalene says that following the death and resurrection of Jesus, she gained an invitation to a banquet given by Emperor Tiberius Caesar. When she met him, she held a plain egg in her hand and exclaimed "Christ is risen!" Caesar laughed, and said that Christ rising from the dead was as likely as the egg in her hand turning red while she held it. Before he finished speaking, the egg in her hand turned a bright red, and she continued proclaiming the Gospel to the entire imperial house. Mary Magdalene is considered by the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Anglican churches to be a saint, with a feast day of July 22.

Bringing a taste of the Kremlin to Jerusalem, the 19th-century Church of Mary Magdalene is a distinctive Jerusalem landmark on the Mount of Olives.

The Church of Mary Magdalene was built by Tsar Alexander III in 1888 in the traditional Russian style. Easily spotted from the Temple Mount, the Russian church's seven golden domes have been newly gilded and sparkle in the sun. Combined with its multiple levels and sculpted white turrets, the church looks like something out of a fairytale.

The church is worth a close-up visit as well, for it stands in a tranquil garden and is filled with Orthodox icons and wall paintings inside.

The crypt holds the remains of Tsar Alexander's mother, the Grand Duchess Elizabeth, who was killed in the Russian revolution of 1917.

Also buried here is Princess Alice of Greece (Queen Elizabeth's mother-in-law), who harbored Jews during the Nazi occupation of Greece.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Evil Generation; the Family of Jesus (MT:12:43-50)


Matthew 12:43-45

From: William J …
To: Donald ….
Sent: Tue, 20 July, 2010 21:24:43
Subject: Mtt 12: 47 omission / Joseph Ratzinger

Dear Father Donald,

… (Pope Benedict -referring directly to verse 47).

While reading (Joseph Ratzinger's) Pope Benedict's book, "Jesus of Nazareth", and relating to this passage, he has a very interesting comment (on which he expands, page 112ff, having written on the Sermon on the Mount). He writes of Israel's view of the Fourth Commandment anchoring the heart of the social order, the rationale for Israel's social existence, saying that this is exactly the connection that Jesus calls into question (when Jesus is "told that his mother and brothers are outside"... referring directly to verse 47). Pope Benedict writes that while the Torah presents a very definite social order, discipleship of Jesus offers no politically concrete program for structuring society, saying that Jesus' new interpretation of the fourth commandment affects not only the parent-child relation, but the entire scope of the social structure of the people of Israel. His analysis is very penetrating... but it is his inclusion of verse 47 that weights in favour of the inclusion for me of the missing verse!

You have caused my reading of the Gospels to have become an altogether more inquiring and more rewarding experience!

… in Our Lord,


PS. Later: Thank you for the extract from "Sacra Pagina"'s commentary on Matt 12: 43ff. It will be brilliant to have these beside me... soon! I love the extract, especially the conclusion, both as to the 'inclusion' of verse 47 and as to the 'omission', or break, in the Lectionary's readings. What this emphasises for me (as does Pope Benedict's writings) is the of the Gospel narratives that at first glance appear almost disparate. How open and responsive I need to become to sense and appreciate the continuity of the Gospel narrative.

W …

Sacra Pagine Series Volume 1

"The most confusing, ignored, and problematic passages in the Synoptic Gospels".

Richard Rohr, OFM, certainly articulated the problem.

The most confusing, ignored, and problematic passages in the Synoptic Gospels.

Richard Rohr, OFM certainly articulated the problem. It still looked beyond a pschological explaination.
Happily William has found the excellent resolution to not only Mt. 12:43-45 but to a beutifull comprehensive account of 12:43-50 by Fr. Harrington of Sacra Pagina.
Happily William has found the excellent resolution to not only Mt. 12:43-45 but to a beutifull comprehensive account of 12:43-50 by Fr. Harrington of Sacra Pagina.


The Gospel of Matthew pp. 190-193

30. This Evil Generation; the Family of Jesus (12:43-50)

30. This Evil Generation; the Family of Jesus (12:43-50)

43. "When an unclean spirit goes forth from a person, it travels through waterless places seeking rest, and it does not find it. 44. Then it says: 'I will go back to my house from which 1 came forth.' And it goes and finds it unoccupied and swept clean and put in order. 45. Then it goes and brings with itself seven other spirits worse than itself, and it enters and dwells there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first. And so it will be for this evil generation."

46. While he was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and brothers were standing outside, seeking to speak to him. 47. Someone said to him: "Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak to you." 48. He answered and said to the one speaking to him: "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?" 49. And he stretched out his hand to his disciples and said: "Behold my mother and my brothers. 50. For who- ever does the will of my Father in heaven, he is my brother and sister and mother."


43. an unclean spirit: The whole speech of Jesus in Matt 12:25-42 has been Occasioned by the exorcism of a demon in Matt 12:22. The idea that the wilderness ("water­less places") was the abode of demons appears in Isa 34:14-15; Lev 16:10. Jesus was tested by the devil in the wilderness (see Matt 4:1-11).

44. unoccupied: Only Matthew adds this qualifier to the following two qualifiers. Its presence provides a preliminary image to "swept clean and put in order," suggesting that the emptiness of the house calls out for the arrival of a new tenant.

45. the last state: The eight devils now occupying the house will be harder to expel than the one demon was previously. So the situation has become much worse.

for this evil generation: The concluding sentence, found only in Matthew, applies the story to the generation of Jesus. It suggests that the exorcisms done by Jesus were only an interlude and promises that worse things will happen. The Lukan context (Luke 11:23-26) uses the story in an individual context (see Luke 11:23), not in the historical context indicated by Matthew.

46. his mother and brothers: The term "brothers" (adelphoz)has been interpreted in several ways: the blood brothers of Jesus born of Mary and Joseph; the half-brothers of Jesus, the children of Joseph's prior marriage; or the cousins of Jesus based on the fact that "brother" can cover a wide range of relationships. It is doubtful that Matthew knew the tradition about the perpetual virginity of Mary (see Matt 1:25).

47. Someone said: Some important ancient manuscripts omit the entire verse. The best argument for its inclusion is verse 48, which demands something like verse 47; -its omission could be explained by its similarity in wording to verse 46. An argument against its inclusion is Matthew's tendency to omit whatever does not move the story along. But Matt 12:47 merely repeats what has already been said in 12:46.

48. his disciples: By his words and actions Jesus redefines membership in his family.

He also defines discipleship as doing the will of his heavenly Father (see Matt 12:50). By omitting Mark 3:20-21 Matthew avoids the suggestion that Jesus' family ("those around him") thought that he was mad. In Matthew the family func­tions more as a literary foil than as a solid opposition to Jesus.


From the perspective of sources and literary forms the last two texts in Matthew 12-the story about the return of the evil spirit (12:43-45) and the statement about the true family of Jesus (12:46-50)-have little in common. The first text (12:43-45) is a parable-like narrative based almost entirely on Q (see Luke 11:24-26). Matthew's distinctive contribution comes in the application contained in the final sentence: And so it will be for this evil generation. "This comment takes the parable out of its mysterious realm and offers an interpretation, or at least an application: The exorcisms done by Jesus provide only a temporary respite from demon possession; an even worse period is in store for "this evil generation." At the same time, Matthew's comment expresses an alienation, or even separation,' on Jesus' part from "this evil generation" (see Matt 12:39).

The second text (Matt 12:46-50) is a pronouncement by Jesus about his true family; it is based on Mark 3:31-35. As in Mark, it expresses an aliena­tion, or even separation, on Jesus' part from his own family. When placed beside Matt 12:43-45 as the climax of a section devoted to the rejection of Jesus (Matthew 11-12) and leading into an exploration of the reasons for Jesus' rejection (Matt 13:1-52), the statement about Jesus' true family (Matt 12:46-50) takes on a pivotal significance. Matthew has joined the two texts on the basis of their content. Both concern Jesus' alienation and separation from "this evil generation" and from his earthly family.

The biblical background for these texts is the theme of the people of God; see D. J. Harrington, God's People in Christ: New Testament Perspectives on the Church and Judaism (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1980). The basic shape of God's relation to Israel remains the same throughout its history: It is the result of God's gracious offer of election, is communal in nature, and takes the form of a covenant between God and Israel. But in post-exilic times there was a tendency to narrow down who in Israel really continues this special relationship with God. Only those who avoid marriages with non-Iews, or observe circumcision or Sabbath regulations, or belong to the right group count with respect to this special relationship. The destruction of the Jeru­salem Temple and of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 made this relationship even more problematic, for the major unifying religious institution-the Temple-no longer existed. And so a major matter of debate in Jesus' time was the iden­tity of the people of God. It was an even more controversial issue in the time when Matthew wrote his Gospel.

The message of Matt 12:43-50 to Matthew's community as it tried to de­fine itself vis-à-vis other Jewish groups after A.D. 70 would have been some­thing like the following: The exorcisms performed by Jesus were only an interlude or temporary victory; thisevil generation" will see an even worse infestation of demons (Matt 12:43-45). The true family of Jesus (=the Church as the people of God) is made up of those who do God's will (Matt 12:46-50). Here there may also be a criticism of a Christian group that took its leadership from Jesus' family. Matt 12:43-50 distinguishes the community of Jesus fromthis evil generation" and the blood relatives of Jesus. It reduces membership in the community of Jesus to one simple requirement: doing the will of God.

The idea of the Church as the family of Jesus joined together by its dedication to doing God's will remains a powerful theme. It must, however, remain faithful to the premise that God's will has been expressed in the Scriptures and in the example of Jesus. It must also face the fact that in fami­lies there are often problems, crises, and conflicts. The Church as the fam­ily of Jesus should not be allowed to degenerate into vagueness or romanticism.

Daniel J. Harrington, S.J.