Jesus never intended to found a Church made up of "adherents to a religion", but to call together "followers of the Way" that he was opening up. Today's Christian communities can only live up to that vision by keeping the real-life person of Jesus and his message—the reign of God—at the center of their life. The four gospels, written in different historical and cultural contexts, give us different perspectives on that person and that message.
This commentary explores Matthew's perspective, using the Matthean passages. Each passage is examined, both in the context that shaped Matthew's telling of the story, and in the context of today's Christian communities.
Matthew's perspective shows Jesus transforming the expectations of the People of Israel. He is the fulfillment of God's ancient promises to them; he is God's new presence with them after the destruction of the Temple; he is the Prophet of a new Law, proclaimed from a new Mount Sinai; and he is the Messiah who calls together the new Israel, which Matthew calls the Church.
He is also the Teacher of Life, whose surprising —and disconcerting— sermons and parables offer the new spiritual energy that today's churches need in order to be transformed from adherents into followers.
Jose Antonio Pagola
||José Antonio Pagola was born in Spain in 1937. He completed his theological studies in 1962 at the Papal Gregorian University in Rome and his studies in Sacred Scripture at the Papal Biblical Institute in Rome in 1963. He also studied Biblical sciences at the École Biblique in Jerusalem. Pagola is a professor at St. Sebastian Seminary and at the Faculty of Theology of Northern Spain. He has dedicated his life to Biblical studies and Christology and has done research on the historical Jesus for more than 30 years. His is author of numerous books including the best selling "Jesus: An Historical Approximation".
"In this welcome book, Pagola allows Matthew’s gospel to speak with a refreshing new clarity and spiritual energy about the Jesus who captured the hearts of his disciples. In reflections based on the Sunday Lectionary readings, Pagola offers the challenges of following Jesus, in tune with his real life, and of identifying with Jesus’ vision of the reign of God. The author presents suggestions on how these challenges impact the Christian living in today’s world. I recommend this work to those who teach and preach the gospels, first for their own adult faith and then to energize their ministry".
— Marion C. Moeser, OSF, PhD, Christ the King Seminary, East Aurora, NY
"More than ever we need Jesus. We need him as the centre of our personal lives and of our Church. But Jesus, too, needs followers afire with His passion for God’s reign, who will join Him and spend themselves for the Kingdom of God in today’s world... José Antonio Pagola opens before us unsuspected paths in our following of Jesus".
– Vasco Do Rego, S.J.
"This new book from Convivium Press is an insightful and careful walk through the gospel of Matthew that begins by making the argument (one that resonates with me) that "Christianity as most people live it today does not raise up 'followers' of Jesus, but 'adherents' to a religion." I am reminded of theologian Leonard Sweet's argument that Christianity should be a "movement," not an "institution," for an institution, he says, is mostly in the public's eye, whereas a movement is mostly in the public's hair. Pagola also is right about how Christianity too often has related to other faiths: "The relationship between Christianity and other religions has often been invasive and controlling. Aware of its power, the Church has tried to impose its faith and implant its religious system, and thus contributed to the destruction of cultures and the uprooting of whole populations (…). All that said, there is much in this book to recommend it”.
– Bill Tammeus, "Faith Matters" Blogger; Columnist, The Presbyterian Outlook; Columnist, National Catholic Reporter.