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Author: Romo Valentinus Bayuhadi Ruseno OP

Matius dan Injilnya

Matius dan Injilnya

Minggu Pertama Adven (A)
27 November 2022
Matius 24:37-44

Masa Adven menandai awal tahun liturgi Gereja. Kali ini, kita memasuki tahun Matius (tahun A) karena sebagian besar hari Minggu tahun ini, kita akan mendengarkan dan merenungkan bersama teks-teks dari Injil Matius. Sekarang, karena kita akan berziarah bersama dengan Matius, marilah kita mengenal sang penginjil ini dan Injilnya.

Asal-usul, komposisi dan kepengarangan Injil ini telah menjadi bahan diskusi dan perdebatan yang tak ada habisnya di antara para ahli kitab suci modern. Namun, tradisi panjang Gereja Katolik dengan tegas menyatakan bahwa rasul Matius adalah penulisnya, dan banyak saksi kuno, seperti Santo Irenaeus (sekitar tahun 130-200), Santo Klemens dari Aleksandria (sekitar tahun 150-215) dan Uskup Eusebius dari Kaisarea (sekitar tahun 260 – 340) bersaksi bahwa Matius memang penulisnya.

Karakteristik yang menarik dari Injil Matius adalah karakter Yahudinya. Dipercaya bahwa pembaca asli dari Injil Matius adalah orang-orang Kristen Yahudi mula-mula. Matius banyak mengutip dari Perjanjian Lama (sekitar 60 kutipan). Ia menempatkannya dari awal sampai akhir, dari ‘… mereka akan menyebut-Nya Imanuel’ (Mat 1:23, bdk. Yes 8:10), sampai ‘Eli, Eli lema sebachtani (Mat 27:46, bdk. Mzm 22:1)’. Tidak hanya dari Perjanjian Lama, Matius juga menggunakan tradisi Yahudi pada masa Yesus, seperti tradisi tentang ‘kursi Musa’ (Mat 23:2). Jelas, Matius ingin mengajarkan bahwa Yesus adalah penggenapan janji-janji Allah dalam Perjanjian Lama. Seorang filsuf dan teolog Katolik, Peter Kreeft, merangkum Injil Matius sebagai ‘Injil dari seorang Yahudi, untuk orang Yahudi tentang Mesias Yahudi’.

Namun, meskipun sangat Yahudi, Matius tetap teguh bahwa Yesus bukan hanya Juruselamat orang Yahudi saja, tetapi untuk semua orang. Hanya dalam Matius, kita memiliki kisah tentang orang-orang Majus, yang menjadi perwakilan bangsa-bangsa, yang datang dan menyembah bayi Yesus (Mat 2). Dalam Matius juga, Yesus memerintahkan para murid, “Karena itu pergilah, jadikanlah semua bangsa murid-Ku dan baptislah mereka dalam nama Bapa dan Putra dan Roh Kudus (Mat 28:19).” Dari Israel, untuk dunia.

Karakter lain dari Injil Matius adalah bahwa Injil Matius adalah Injil Gereja. Tentu saja, ketiga Injil lainnya juga untuk Gereja, namun hanya dalam Matius, kata ‘Gereja’ (ἐκκλησία) keluar dari mulut Yesus. Pertama, ketika Yesus akan mendirikan Gereja-Nya di atas Petrus (Mat 16:13-20) dan kedua, ketika Yesus mengajarkan koreksi persaudaraan di antara para anggota Gereja (Mat 18:17). Injil menjadi piagam dasar Gereja kita, Gereja yang didirikan Yesus. Tidak heran mengapa Injil Matius menjadi favorit banyak orang kudus.

Kembali ke kisah hidup Matius, kita tahu bahwa ia adalah seorang mantan pemungut cukai (Mat 9:9-13). Yesus memanggilnya dan ia bangkit, meninggalkan segala sesuatu, dan mengikuti Yesus. Namun, ia tidak benar-benar meninggalkan segalanya. Ia membawa serta kapasitas intelektual dan keahliannya sebagai pemungut cukai dan menggunakannya untuk menulis Injil dan membawa orang lebih dekat kepada Yesus.

Masa Adven mempersiapkan kita untuk kedatangan Yesus, dan undangan adalah apa yang akan kita persembahkan kepada Yesus ketika Dia datang. Jika Matius memberikan hidupnya dan keahliannya dalam menulis kepada Yesus, apa yang akan kita persembahkan kepada Yesus di Masa Adven ini?
Dalam masa Adven ini juga, saya mengundang Anda untuk membaca seluruh Injil Matius. Mari kita habiskan satu pasal untuk setiap hari di Masa ini, sebagai bagian dari latihan rohani kita.

Roma
Valentinus Bayuhadi Ruseno, OP

Matthew and His Gospel

Matthew and His Gospel

1st Sunday of Advent (A)
November 27, 2022
Matthew 24:37-44

The season of Advent marks the beginning of the Church’s liturgical year. This time, we enter the year of Matthew (year A) because on most Sundays of this year, we are going to listen and reflect together the texts from the gospel of Matthew. Now, since we will journey together with Matthew, let us be familiar with this evangelist and his gospel.

The origin, composition and authorship of this gospel have become a subject of endless speculation and debates among the modern scholars. However, the long tradition of the Catholic Church has firmly held that apostle Matthew is the author, and many ancient witnesses, like St. Irenaeus (c. 130 – 200), St. Clement of Alexandria (ca. 150-215) and Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 260 – c. 340) testified that Matthew is indeed the writer.

An interesting characteristic on Matthew’s Gospel is that its Jewish character. It is believed that the original readers of Matthew are the early Jewish Christians. Matthew quoted a lot from the Old Testament (around 60 times). He placed them from the beginning to the end, from ‘… they shall call Him Emmanuel.’ (Mat 1:23, cf. Isa 8:10), to ‘Eli, Eli lema sebachtani (Mat 27:46, cf. Ps. 22:1).’ Not only from Old Testament, but Matthew also used the Jewish traditions at the time of Jesus, like the tradition about Moses’ chair (Mat 23:2). Clearly, Matthew wished to teach that Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promises in the Old Testament. As a Catholic philosopher and theologian, Peter Kreeft, summarizes the Gospel of Matthew as ‘A Gospel from a Jew, for the Jews about the Jewish Messiah.’

However, despite being very Jewish, Matthew remains firm that Jesus is not only the Savior of the Jews alone, but for everyone. Only in Matthew, we have the story of the Magi, the representatives of the nations that came and worshiped baby Jesus (Mat 2). In Matthew also, Jesus instructed the disciples, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Mat 28:19).” It is from Israel, for the world.

Another character of Matthew is that it is the Gospel of the Church. Certainly, the other three gospels are also for the Church, yet only in Matthew, the word ‘Church’ (Ecclesia) comes from the mouth of Jesus. Firstly, it is when Jesus would establish His Church on Peter (Mat 16:13-20) and secondly, when Jesus taught fraternal correction among the members of the Church (Mat 18:15ff). The Gospel turns to be the foundation charter of our Church, the Church Jesus has founded. No wonder why this Gospel becomes favorite of many saints.

Going back to the life of Matthew, we know that he was a former tax collector. Jesus called him and he got up, left everything, and followed Jesus. Yet, he did not really leave everything. He brought along his intellectual and scribal capacity that he used as a tax collector and utilized it to write the Gospel and to bring people closer to Jesus.

The season of Advent prepares us for the coming of Jesus, and the invitation is what we shall offer to Jesus when he comes. If Matthew was giving his life and his skill in writing to Jesus, what shall we offer to Jesus in this Advent season?
In this Advent also, I am inviting you to read the entire gospel of Matthew. Let us spend one chapter for each day of this season, as part of our spiritual exercise.

Rome
Valentinus Bayuhadi Ruseno, OP

Is Jesus a king?

Is Jesus a king?

Solemnity of Jesus Christ, the King of Universe
November 20, 2022 [C]
Luke 23:35-43

As we end our liturgical year, the Church is celebrating the solemnity of Jesus the King. Yet, the real question is what kind of king Jesus is? Is He like present day king of England or emperor of Japan, a head of state, a symbol of a nation, yet his power is limited by the constitutions? Is Jesus like ancient kings who wielded limitless power, and their words were laws of the country? So how do we understand the kingship of Jesus and how is it to be the citizen of Jesus’ kingdom?

To answer this, we need to go back to the time of Jesus and even to the Old Testament. In the Old Testament, there is a great king that becomes the model of all kings. His name is David. He was not only a formidable warrior, but also brilliant general who led Israel into many victories. He was a respected and popular leader who united the twelve tribes of Israel, even when he was still thirty (see 2 Sam 5:4). He made Jerusalem as both the political and religious capital of Israel. However, more importantly, he was a righteous king. As a king, he loved the Lord God, and lived according to His Laws. It is true that he abused his power, and committed several grave sins, but he repented and went back to the Lord.

Unfortunately, his successors did not follow his footsteps. They worshiped other gods and involved in various corrupted and immoral practices. Because of this, the kingdom of Israel was declining and eventually destroyed. Israelites were exiled, and many tribes were lost. However, God did not abandon His people, and promised through His prophets that a king like David will come (like in Isa 11, Mic 5 and many others).

Now, is Jesus the promised king like His forefather, David? Like David, Jesus came from the tribe of Judah. Like David, Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Like David who united the twelve tribes of Israel, Jesus chose twelve apostles to be ‘the judge of the tribes of Israel’ (see Luk 22:30). Like David who made Jerusalem as his capital, Jesus made Jerusalem as His destination. Yet, the differences are also glaring. Unlike David, Jesus was neither warrior nor general. Unlike David, Jesus practically held no political and economic power. Unlike David who sat on the majestic throne, Jesus was nailed to the cross.

On the cross, Jesus was more like a criminal, slave, and loser. He is the antithesis of all kings. Everyone around Him mocked him, as a useless savior, and impostor king. Yet, in this darkest moment, one of the criminals crucified with Jesus, by divine inspiration, recognized who Jesus was, and asked the single most important question in his life: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom (Luk 23:42).” Then, Jesus promised him paradise.

This is Jesus. He is the king who gives the true paradise, not a paradise built by economic, political powers. Jesus may not free us from sufferings, but as king, He suffers with us. He is a king who does not give us weapons nor earthly benefits, but gives us a power to love radically and rebuild our broken world. He may not send hellfire to our enemies, but He gives the grace to forgive, and to transform our anger into peace.

If we, then, recognize Jesus as our king, it is naturally follows that we shall live according to His Laws as well as make Him as the primary model. Just the ancient Israel relied on David, so we shall depend on Jesus, our king. As earthly kings provide freedom to their people, we shall trust in Jesus, our victory.

Roma
Valentinus Bayuhadi Ruseno, OP

How to prepare for the End of Time

How to prepare for the End of Time

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]
November 13, 2022
2 Thes 3:7-12 (Luk 21:5-19)

As the end of the liturgical is drawing closer, the Church selects readings that related to the end of time. Now, the question that always appears regarding the end of the world is ‘when’. Truly, we do not know the answer because the Lord does not reveal it to us. Many self-proclaimed prophets have attempted to predict the doomsday, but all failed. Another question that is related to the end of the world is ‘how it’s going to end’. Again, we do not know exactly. Some speculate that a meteorite would hit and destroy the earth, others say that there would be nuclear wars that would decimate all lives, and still others believe in a zombie apocalypse, where a deadly virus would globally spread and turn humans into monsters. Again, these are wild speculations.

However, the real question is not ‘when’ but ‘how it happens’, but ‘how’ we prepare ourselves for the end time.’ Fortunately, we have St. Paul to help us. St. Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians (our second reading), gives a strong rebuke to those lazy Christians. The reason why they were acting like busybodies but actually doing nothing is interestingly related to the eschatology (fancy word for theology of end time). They believed that Christ would come soon during their lives time, and thus, it would be unnecessary for them to work meaningfully. They just waited, ate and slept. This theology is not acceptable to Paul, and he reminded them, “if a man does not work, he shall not eat (2 Thes 3:10).”

The second coming of Jesus is fundamental to St. Paul’s theology, but it does not make him lazy at all. In fact, he worked tirelessly both as a tent-maker and as an apostle. Even when in prison, he did not cease preaching and proclaiming the good news. These he did are to follow the example of our Lord Jesus. Reading through the four gospels we can easily see that Jesus is a man of action. He worked as a carpenter, taught as a Rabbi, and worked miracles as a Son of God. In His rest and quite time, Jesus spent it in prayer and in union with the Father. Even in His suffering and death, He carried His cross and made sure that the salvation is offered to all of us. Laziness is abnormality in our Christian DNA.

While it is true that our redemption is a free gift from God, it is never cheap. Our faith in Jesus is never passive acceptance, but dynamic and growing response. Yes, we do not earn our salvation, but essential to our faith is the growth in holiness and labours of love. St. Paul reminds the Thessalonians that those who do not work meaningfully, shall not eat the bread. We can also apply this to us, “Those who do not work the labour of love, shall not eat the spiritual bread.”

In the celebration of the Eucharist, there is part called the preparation of the gifts. Here, the priest prepares the bread and the wine, and he then says, “Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the bread we offer you: fruit of the earth and work of human hands, it will become for us the bread of life.” The prayer is a simple but profound. It teaches us the bread is coming from God’s goodness. Yet, God wants us and all creations to participate in the forming the bread. Till such point, that the bread is ready to offer back to God in Christ. The bread (and the wine) are the symbol of salvation. It is coming from God, but He wants us actively participate in the process of maturing. To such moment, that we are to offer it back to God.

Thus the best way to prepare the end is not to be lazy.

Rome
Valentinus Bayuhadi Ruseno, OP

Why Marriage?

Why Marriage?

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]
November 6, 2022
Luke 20:27-38

In today’s Gospel, the Sadducees attempt to test Jesus. Sadducees are a religious faction in first-century Judaism like the Pharisees, but unlike the more popular Pharisees, they only hold Torah as the only valid source of Jewish religious teachings and practices, and refuse the writings of the prophets, the wisdom books, and later traditions. One of their main teachings is that they do not believe in the resurrection of the body. Jesus and the Pharisees though always in debate, they share in a common fundamental belief in the bodily resurrection. Later on, the resurrection of the body will be one of the Christian core beliefs.

Thus, to ridicule this kind of belief, the Sadducees are using the practice of the levirate marriage. In the Law of Moses, there is a practice to secure the bloodline and inheritance of a man who does not have any offspring. As a solution, the brothers or relatives of the diseased man will marry the widow and produce offspring in his behalf. Then, the Sadducees move to checkmate position. “In the resurrection, whose husband, this woman be?” There will be confusion in heaven!

Yet, Jesus makes it crystal clear that in the resurrection, men and women are living like angels, and marriage is no longer needed. There will be no confusion in heaven. However, we can go deeper and ask, “If marriage is no longer necessary in heaven, why do we need to have it here on earth?

The first answer is that marriage is a biological necessity, like the need to eat, to rest, and to breath. It is necessary for our survival, especially as a species on earth. Yet, if marriage is just biological need, then why does the Church honor greatly the marriage? Why does the devil and his cohorts try their best to destroy the traditional institution of marriage? Marriage must not be only about biology, but also God’s design for men and women. Marriage is not just biological or cultural motivated, but divinely planned. Yet, if marriage is part of God’s plan, why does it cease in heaven?

The answer lays on the purpose of marriage itself. Marriage is a means for men and women to give themselves totally in love. It empowers us to go beyond ourselves and love radically. It is a way of holiness, a staircase to heaven. Now, if we have reached our goal in heaven, then the marriage, as the means, is no longer necessary. Marriage has served its purpose.

This is the reason that holy marriage is fundamental on earth. The Savior also raises the dignity of marriage to a sacrament because it is truly a means of holiness (see CCC 1601), just like the sacrament of baptism or penance. Before men and women become like angels, we must live fully as human persons on earth, and one of the best ways to make us live fully as men and women of God is marriage.

Rome
Valentinus Bayuhadi Ruseno, OP