The following is a summary of the Introduction of Pope Francis’ Encyclical of the Laity that was presented at the PPC Planning Day held January 11, 2014.
The gospel according to Matthew is on the coverage of Cycle A for Sunday readings this year. The SSAP through the PPC and through the different heads of the Ministries reflect on this gospel in planning the year’s activities.
Matthew starts off his gospel with a genealogy to present the evidence for Jesus’ claim to be the King of the Jews. He refers to Jesus as the son of David to link the old and the new.
Matthew was a Jew and wrote for fellow Jews. He wrote to Jewish Christians, to cope with the non-Jewish Christians who were increasingly joining their ranks. He wanted the Church to be a Church for all.
In The Gospel of Matthew, Jesus multiplies the loaves twice, in MT 14:13 and MT 15:32. Why? When you read the multiplication stories, it is important to see not how many loaves there were but how many baskets remained.
The 12 baskets remaining symbolize the 12 tribes of Israel. The 7 baskets remaining symbolize the Creation Covenant.
In today’s world, we believe in Jesus but are confused in how we interpret the law.
Furthermore, the gospel is divided into 5 main discourses, which talk about the following:
1. Beatitudes – how we are blessed despite our sufferings.
2. What is it like to be an apostle/evangelist.
3. Heaven – what the kingdom of God is like.
4. Heaven on Earth – what you do here, matters in heaven.
5. How to get to heaven – Ch. 25 “care for the weak” – and to all nations.
The impact that Pope Francis has done in his short term as a Pope (since Mar 13, 2013) reflects deeply on this gospel. Pope Francishas done many examples of preaching through action. Many significant things that he has done touches on the gospel of Matthew: caring for the weak, bringing the children close, blessing the suffering, loving non-Catholics. We look at his first apostolic exhortation (memo in Vatican language) to all of us written last November 2013 and the message is simple: we are all called to evangelize, it has to start in the parish, then we reach out to the weak in society. He also mentions specifically Asia and Africa. This is called EvangeliiGaudium.
In this light, the challenge for the PPC and the different Ministry heads is: How do we respond with our planned parish activities for the year?