The last part of Matthew’s Gospel deals with the Passion, the death and the resurrection of Christ. This is the climax of the Gospel, and the point to which the whole previous narrative leads. This is the decisive time of Jesus’ mission, and the end of his earthly life during his saving ministry. Jesus was born as a king in Bethlehem (Mt 2:2), he taught the charter of the Kingdom, sent his disciples to experience it, spoke of it under the form of parables, trained his disciples to build the community of this Kingdom, and informed his disciples of his Second Coming at the end of time. Now, the time has come for the King to achieve salvation for the world from the Throne of the Cross (Mt 27:37). Hence the question: how could the suffering Jesus be the expected Saviour Christ? This belief is a scandal (obstacle) for the Jews, and madness for the pagans, but for those who are saved, Jesus is the power of God and His wisdom (1Cor 1:23-24).
If we read the book of the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles of Paul, we discover that the discourses focus on the fact that Christ is dead and resurrected. It is the main nucleus of the apostolic kerygma; that which the Apostles announced right at the beginning; and this was the first evangelical narrative, long before the narrative about the Lord’s teachings, his miracles and his infancy. The best evidence is the strong similarity between the four Gospels on these events in the life of Jesus, confirming their historical reality. The entire life of Jesus and the Old Testament take on a new significance in the light of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. These decisive stages in Jesus’ life are the key to reading the Gospel; they bring us into a new dynamic to find out the significance of the saving events that have happened in history, in order to live them in our lives today.
In order to develop the theme of passion, death and resurrection, we have chosen some essential texts from the two Gospels of Luke and John, in addition to the basic text of Matthew. From the theological themes which emerge from the evangelical texts, we will deal with the sacraments of Baptism, the Priesthood and the Eucharist, the subject of ecumenism, the liturgy of the Mass, as well as the meaning of suffering, death and resurrection in our lives today. We cannot read all the texts together, but we would like catechumens to read the whole Gospel, and leave it to them to ask their questions.
We assume that Christ’s victory over death is accepted as the solid foundation on which catechumens can rely in their life of faith; then they will no longer let themselves descend into despair and laziness, when they have to deal with difficulties, illness or failure. Baptism in Christ means the death of the “ancient man”, the old Adam and Original Sin, and also means resurrection into a new life, based on the Risen Christ. The great enemy for man is death; and Christ defeated him, through his infinite love, transforming every temptation to evil in our lives into an experience of hope, through which we will glorify God and bear witness to him to our brethren.