Discipleship in the company of Matthew

During Lent three webinars were held to explore Matthews Gospel. The presentations were expertly and skilfully led by Fr. Kieran O’Mahony. The principal group in attendance were the Diocesan Lay Readers of our new expanded Diocese. People logged in both individually or as groups. The groups were able to further discuss what was heard and learnt. The webinars have been recorded and are to be available to listen to on the Diocesan website while in addition Kieran very helpfully shared his talks in slides that help to remind us of some of the material covered and the very strong factual basis analysed. Something that added to the success of the series was the willingness of Fr. Kieran to very openly welcome questions and discussion which expanded the range and gave many new insights and background to the Scriptures.

The idea of holding such a series came from a meeting of Diocesan Lay Readers hosted by Bishop Michael last October. Readers recognise that there is a need for developing and renewing their skill sets. This is especially true in the area of preaching. For many, former monthly meetings to discuss such topics had great value. For reasons of distance and resources this is not practical now. The fact that the worship resources so carefully prepared by Canon Patrick Comerford are no longer available has left quite a gap that needed addressing. However, the advent of online ways of meeting is a huge opportunity. Increasingly there is access to broadband and laptops so shouldn’t our Church seek to take advantage and grasp this opportunity. It also saves on those wearisome journeys on dark evenings while enjoying each others fellowship. Exploration of Matthews Gospel was chosen as this is the principal source of our Gospel readings this year. The warden of Readers Rev. Lynda Peilow must be credited with getting such a top quality leader to present the sessions in Fr. Kieran O’Mahony. Of continuing value is that Fr. Kieran pointed to his preaching resources so generously available on . From these much ongoing learning and stimulating information is available.

As for the content of the webinars, there was a huge amount of detail clearly presented. This enables us to much better understand the context of where the Gospel was written, by who and from where it draws its roots and inspiration. The great detailed analysis of this can be listened to on the recordings of the webinars and in the slides that are available. Some very interesting foundation points are the listing of three stages in the early Church as the time of Charism from 30-60 AD, Memory from 60-90 and Institution from 90 – 120. Matthew being written about 70 AD places it before any formal Church structures established and yet it is one of the few places in the Gospels where the word Church is actually mentioned. In study, it is clear that the Gospel writer and his group believed themselves to be part of Judaism and that it was the leaders of Judaism and not themselves who had wrongly deviated from the pathway through from Moses. This surely has lessons for us today. How much of the past do we need to hold on to and what do we need to move beyond? A beautiful learning highlighted in Matt. 23:23 is the need to focus on weightier matters and not light (or unnecessary). So mercy, justice and faithfulness are these core weightier matters and no doubt many of the rituals and purity laws are the light. The analysis of the Passion showed numerous parts led by “Jesus said or Jesus did” illustrating his control of the journey and narrative of the Passion. Hopefully, these small nuggets written here will encourage you the reader to look and listen further…

This format may be very useful for us as a geographically dispersed Diocese to use again as a point of learning and growth. It is true that the online meeting format cannot match the in person yet. But small groups become comfortable with each other online and willing to interact freely as time goes on. Better connectivity nationwide will mean we will all be able to speak and hear each other online. Through these learnings, may we all come to better know and understand the Word of God as it lives amongst us today in our own communities.

Andrew Eadie

April 2023

Video Sessions