The Gospel of Matthew ($3.95 each)
Six-Meeting Series for Small Church Communities
Synopsis and Sample Reflection Questions
Under the "Gathered In His Name" umbrella title, this series walks the reader through the Gospel of Matthew, focusing on two to seven chapters of the Gospel at each session. Meetings run about two hours each: 90 minutes for study and reflection questions, and 30 minutes for socializing. The meeting guide is a 40-page booklet in 8-1/2x11 paperback format. Each participant should have his/her own booklet.
Additional resources and meeting ideas are available in the GIHN "Leader's Guide."
Meeting One: The New Moses
The Gospel of Matthew, written for a Jewish audience and showing Jesus as “the new Moses,” is noted for its organization, writing style and clarity. The recurring theme of this Gospel is the kingdom of heaven, both a goal to be sought and a present reality. Date, authorship, and overall structure of the Gospel. Commentary on Matthew’s Infancy Narrative with its focus on Joseph and the Magi – people who respond by faith to God’s call.
Sample reflection question: Matthew’s account of the visit of the wise men says they “left for their own country by another road.” Describe an experience that made you take a different road from that time on.
Meeting Two: The Kingdom Has Come Near
Overview of Chapters Three through Seven. “Repent, for the kingdom of God has come near.” The call of the first disciples; the healing power of Jesus; the Sermon on the Mount, a “guidebook for the Christian life.”
Sample reflection question: “Share a time recently when someone was ‘salt’ or ‘light’ for you.
Meeting Three: Preaching the Kingdom
Overview of Chapters Eight to Ten: the healing of the leper and the centurion’s servant. Jesus chooses to cure us; he reaches out to persons despised by others. Faith is crucial in the ten miracles recounted in this section of the Gospel. First signs of opposition to Jesus. The commissioning of the disciples to proclaim the kingdom and to heal the sick. Our mission to carry God’s love to the world.
Sample reflection question: Name one gift you have been given by God. How do you share it?
Meeting Four: The Kingdom of Heaven Is…
Overview of Chapters Eleven to Thirteen: the growing opposition to Jesus; Jesus shows God as compassionate – “Come to me, all you who are weary…” Six parables begin, “The kingdom of heaven is like…” Commentary on building the kingdom of heaven, bringing life to our world.
Sample reflection question: Which parable about the kingdom of heaven speaks to your own experience? Why?
Meeting Five: Building the Kingdom
Overview of Chapters Fourteen through Eighteen. Guided meditation on the miracle of the loaves and fishes. Jesus works miracles in our world – and he relies on our “generous hearts and willing hands” to carry his love to the world. The final days of Jesus’ life – the triumphal entry into Jerusalem; dialogues with the Pharisees; teachings on the “greatest commandment,” on salvation, and on the Last Judgment. Sample reflection question: Share a time when someone did one of the works of mercy (feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty and so on) for you.
Meeting Six: The Passion and Resurrection
Matthew’s account of the passion and death of Jesus is the longest of any of the Gospels, and introduces us to people who respond to Jesus with faith, fear, betrayal or courage. There are times when we are like each of these contemporaries of Jesus. Matthew’s resurrection narrative, although extremely brief, shows who Jesus is and what he asks of us. The Gospel concludes with Jesus’ words of love: “Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Sample reflection question: Share a time when “your will be done” was the only prayer that made sense to you, or a time when it was really difficult for you to pray those words.