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Saint Matthew’s Gospel: Brother Francis, M.I.C.M.
With the assistance of Father Feeney, Brother Francis had devoted over thirty years to the study of the Gospels before he gave classes on them. He actually memorized each of the four, and could recite Saint John’s Gospel in Greek. The best way to get to know Our Lord, he insisted, is to contemplate Him as He is revealed to us in the Gospels. Only two of the twelve Apostles were inspired to write a Gospel: Saints Matthew and John. Saint Matthew had the conversion of the Jews most in mind in the writing of his Gospel, which is why he is the only writer among the New Testament authors to have written originally in Aramaic, the language spoken by the Galilean Jews. To convince the Jews that Jesus is the Messiah he provides an abundance of examples of Old Testament prophecies fulfilled in Christ. Beginning with the Savior’s humanity, i.e., His genealogy from Abraham, and then introducing the Incarnation with the history of the birth of Jesus from the Virgin Mary and the adoration of the Magi, Matthew soon after includes three chapters on the Sermon on the Mount before proceeding to record more miracles and more parables than any of the other evangelists. One could say that Matthew moves his readers to see the divinity of the Messiah by first focusing on the uniqueness of His humanity. This is why the symbol of Matthew (his attribute in art taken from the prophetic vision of Ezechiel) is the face of a man. His is the longest of the Gospels and the first book to be written in the New Testament. Saint Matthew preached and was martyred (stabbed to death while saying Mass at the altar) in Ethiopia.
Saint Mark’s Gospel: Brother Michael, M.I.C.M.
This course was given by Brother Michael, M.I.C.M., in the mid-1980s. Brother Francis had personally tutored Brother, studying the four Gospels with him in the inspired Greek and commenting on every verse. The symbol for Saint Mark is the lion, which gives us the clue that his Gospel emphasizes the power and kingly authority of Christ. While not one of the twelve, Saint Mark was intimately associated with Saint Peter and is traditionally styled Interpres Petri, the “interpreter of Peter.” We should expect to find in this Gospel reflections of the Prince of the Apostles, and we do. Peter’s spontaneity, for example, is manifest in Mark’s repeated use of the word euthus (twenty-eight times), which means “immediately.” Mark’s is the shortest of the synoptic Gospels. He was martyred in AD 68.
Saint Luke’s Gospel: Brother Francis, M.I.C.M.
This was Brother Francis’ favorite Gospel. One of the reasons he was so enthused about Saint Luke’s Gospel was that this sacred writer gave much prominence to the cooperative role of the Blessed Virgin Mary and her indispensable fiat. He gave us the account of the Annunciation and the Visitation with Our Lady’s sublime canticle the Magnificat. He also gives chivalrous tribute to other women whose lives were touched by Our Lord, such as the woman with the issue of blood, who hoped to be cured by Our Lord by touching just the hem of His garment. A physician himself, Luke noted that she had “bestowed all her substance on physicians, and could not be healed by any.” Luke was the only gentile writer of the New Testament. He was converted by Saint Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles. In fact he is styled Comes Pauli, the “companion of Paul,” having been with him on most of his missionary journeys. In this connection too, Luke provides a genealogy of Our Lord through Our Lady’s ancestry all the way back to Adam, the father of all men. The symbol of Saint Luke is the ox, the primary sacrificial victim in the Temple of Solomon under the Old Law. That is our clue that the Gospel of Saint Luke emphasizes the priesthood of Our Redeemer. Although Our Lord’s eternal priesthood was of a different order, that of Melchisedech, the King of Salem, Luke begins his Gospel with the story of Zachary, a priest of the order of Aaron, who was serving his course in the temple when visited by an angel. This is an excellent introduction to the Holy Gospels.
Saint John’s Gospel: Brother Francis, M.I.C.M.
Brother Francis’ series on the Gospel of Saint John is his best. Brother takes full advantage of the fact that 90% of this Gospel is “fresh” material, not found in the three synoptic accounts. This is the Gospel written by him whom the Greeks honored as “The Theologian,” on account of the sublimity of its doctrine. It begins in eternity, “in the beginning,” before creation, with the generation of the Word. John’s objective was to defend the divinity of Christ against the Gnostic heretics who denied it. The Eagle is, appropriately enough, the symbol attributed to Saint John the Evangelist. Saint John’s Gospel soars to the heights of contemplation and brings us into the mystical realm of Our Lord’s revelations. He drank in the doctrine of the Trinity and the Mystical Body directly from Our Savior’s Heart and communicated these mysteries to the Church by devoting four chapters to Christ’s prayer and discourse at the Last Supper. The privilege of being Our Lady’s priest, surrogate son, confidant, and protector was his for many years, until her Assumption in the year 58. The depth of his writings reflect his fifteen years of filial association with the Mother of God, in addition to the fruits of his contemplation and three years of tutelage under Our Lord. He wrote his Gospel in the year 98, two years before his death.
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