Part Five: The Community of the Kingdom
After Jesus has taught the crowds the mysteries of the Kingdom through parables, which he explained to the disciples (Mt 13), he begins now a new and decisive period in his life. In chapters 14-18, we see him separating himself from the crowds (14:13; 15:21; 16:5,13; 17:1) to devote himself to his disciples, in order to instruct them and prepare them for his great day. This is the origin of the Christian community under the Chair of Peter.
As for the Transfiguration (Mt 17:1-13), it has important theological meanings, as it ties the community of Israel of the Old Testament (manifested by the presence of Moses and Elijah) to the New Testament community (represented by the three disciples), and prepares for the definitive transfiguration of Jesus through his crucifixion and resurrection. Moreover, and only in this fifth part of the Gospel (Mt 14-18), we find the word ekklesia, church, this part speaking of the community of the Kingdom. The final discourse of this section (Mt 18) is an important part of the teaching, as it deals with the way of life in the Church, made up, not of élites, but mere children and converted sinners, forgiving each other.
As for the theological themes that come from the scriptural texts and which will be explained in this section, they are very important for our faith: there is the theme of the Holy Trinity, that of the two sacraments, the Priesthood and the Eucharist, the theme of the Church, and that which deals with moral Christian life, especially the theological virtue of “hope”.
Not dealing with the other paragraphs of this part of the Gospel of Matthew (Mt 14-18) does not mean that they are less important, but we have chosen those which have a close and clear relationship with the discourse. That is why we wish for our dear catechumens to read these five chapters in full, and address to their companions any questions so that everything is clear to them.
It is an important given fact of Baptism that integrates the catechumen with the ecclesial body. Indeed, there are two kinds of conception of the Church: one pyramidal or hierarchical (form of a triangle), based on the fact that that Peter is the head of the Church after Christ, and that the Bishops are the successors of the Apostles, and that after them come the lay people (Mt 16); and the other fraternal and charismatic (circle form), based on the fact that the Church is a community of forgiveness and love, made up of equal brothers and sisters (Mt 18). Catechumens are part of the Church; they belong to the house of Christ. The Church, who is a mother, cares for them out of love and providence, as she does for her own sons; but, once they are baptized, they will participate in a real and sacramental way in all the blessings that Christ has left as gifts for his Bride, the Church. We hope that this part will encourage those who desire Baptism to become integrated into the ecclesial parish of Christ, and to live in love and brotherhood with all.