Posted by Br Malachy Yates
on 25 September 2018
Our first and principal rule has always been the New Testament, the source of our hope and inspiration. We no longer use various verses as "proof texts" because we know that the Gospels are highly structured literary works, in which the words and works of Jesus recalled by the evangelists are ordered in ways to ponder the profundity of his mission. The Gospels demand a response on the part of the reader/listener. The meaning of the words and actions of Jesus' stories, arranged into new literary contexts, are deepened by that context.
It would seem that Matthew's main interest was in writing for small groups of "two or three" initiates at Antioch helping them to find the meaning of their inner personal experience of walking with the resurrected Jesus. Matthew wanted to lead his readers along the path to continual conversion and not merely inform them of some of the events of the life of Jesus.
Jesus' plea to pray to the Lord of the harvest for new reapers (Matt. 9:36), the reason for our monthly Vocation Prayers, comes as the climax of a narrative that begins with Chapter 8. In this narrative, Jesus becomes aware of the depths and the challenges of his mission, which he cannot do on his own. Matthew inserts Jesus' plea to pray the Lord of the harvest for reapers and leaves his readers with a time for silent reflection to meditate on the problem. Using the creative power of a prophet, Matthew, the literary artist, shows those he is instructing that the answer to this prayer, in his case, was the calling of the Apostles and that the answer to their prayers for future 'reapers' would always within the local groups!