Jesus concludes his teachings on living among the Kingdom community (Mt 14-18) with signs of the times. He speaks of the conditions of life and social situations that every believer encounters, while preparing for the Second Coming of Christ and the end of the world. This sixth part of the Gospel of Matthew (Mt 19-25) draws us nearer to unity with Christ, to achieve salvation in our life through the experience of death and resurrection.
The Kingdom has already arrived by the coming of Christ, but it is not yet fully realized on earth; he waits for every believer to receive it in his life. This means that we are living in the end times, awaiting the realisation of salvation in the life of everyone and in the world. The coming of Jesus from Galilee to Judea was a crucial and decisive event in his earthly life, for by entering into Jerusalem he reached the ultimate goal of his saving ministry. In Judea, Jesus speaks of the importance and indissolubility of marriage, voluntary chastity, sharing material goods with the poor, respecting political authority, plus diverse moral and social issues, summarised in the two most important, though similar commandments: “Love of God and love of neighbour”.
The humble entry of Jesus into Jerusalem is none other than a sign of his definitive kingdom, which is different from the kingdoms of this world. As Jesus enters the city to the cheers of the children, he teaches the disciples on the Mount of Olives that the end of time is not known. However, we can reflect on it while awaiting that time. As in the evening of our lives we will be judged on love, Jesus asks us to prepare to meet him, watching and acting according to the divine will.
In our meetings, we cannot not read together all the texts of this sixth part of the Gospel of Matthew (19-25), but we encourage catechumens to read these seven chapters in full, and to ask their companions for clarification if need be. It should be noted that this part, like the last five (Mt 19-23), is preparing us for the “eschatological discourse” on the end of time (Mt 24-25). These events leading up to the discourse prepare, in fact, for the advent of the Kingdom, that Jesus will proclaim in a way that employs the symbolic language of apocalyptic literature. In addition, a passage from the Gospel of John on the Samaritan woman at the well and another from the Gospel of Luke about the repenting Zacchaeus – the wealthy tax collector – speak respectively of the great importance of the “living water” and about contrition and atonement in the Christian life. As for the theological teachings that will be discussed in this section, they focus on the two sacraments of Marriage and Penance; on the identity of the Holy Spirit and his action in the lives of believers; on social and political morality summed up in the virtue of love; and at the end, on Christian eschatology and our concept of retribution and punishment after death.
We hope this part will bear fruit for the catechumens who are thirsty to know more of the teachings of Christ and his Church; and as we await the union of our souls with the heavenly bridegroom, let us pray to the good God, that He may give us the grace of permanent repentance, that makes our hearts beat while waiting for the joy of the heavenly nuptial union.