For as much as the four Gospels share the story of Jesus in common, each of them offers its own distinct set of emphases. Matthew, whose Gospel we follow during Ordinary Time this year, was interested in showing that Jesus’ life and ministry were consistent with his Jewish upbringing. So Matthew repeatedly depicts Jesus’ life as fulfilling Old Testament passages, as in today’s Gospel.
Citations like these can seem painfully dull (and often not easy to follow during Mass, either). And few today would look to such “proofs” of Jesus’ identity as a source of solace or confidence in our faith. So Jesus went to the region of Zebulun and Napthali—big whoop!
And yet, what Matthew was responding to was the instinct to dismiss Jesus because he didn’t fit community expectations. And that impulse remains alive and well today. Consciously and unconsciously, we too have our expectations of what being “a good Christian” looks like, who is and isn’t one, even what Jesus asks of us. But how often do we go back to God and ask, do I have this right?
In the midst of our busy lives, it’s hard not to make snap judgments. From time to time it’s good to step back and ask, who doesn’t get a place at my table right now? Who am I dismissing? Because who knows, it might just be Jesus.
—Fr. Jim McDermott, S.J., a Wisconsin province Jesuit, is an accomplished professional screenwriter who lives at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles,CA.