Scripture Incarnate: Matthew 1:1

Scripture Incarnate: Matthew 1:1 April 2, 2013

Fire of Mercy, Heart of the Word: Meditations on the Gospel According to Saint Matthew I am reading through Fire of Mercy, Heart of the Word, Vol. I, Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis’ commentary on the Gospel of Matthew. You can see all of my posts on this subject here.

Erasmo’s view of scripture is deeply incarnational. Jesus is the incarnate Word of God; and the purpose of scripture is too bring us face to face with Him. Though the Bible, God’s word written, is not in itself divine, still:

The written word of the evangelist: Is it not an incarnation of the spirit of his spoken word, breathed from his mouth of flesh on the roads of Palestine?

And this is why Erasmo bases his commentary on the original Greek text of Matthew’s gospel. Nothing about the Incarnation of Christ is an accident: not the time, not the place, and not the people. If we accept God’s omnipotence, then we have to say that the Gospel was ultimately recorded in Koine Greek because that’s the way the Lord wanted it. It’s worth looking at it that way, to see what we might see. (And then, Erasmo quotes a Hassidic proverb: “To read the Scriptures in translation is like kissing your wife through a handkerchief.”) Not, I hasten to add, that you need to know Greek to read this book, which is fortunate because otherwise I wouldn’t be able to read it.

Erasmo begins his commentary with the title of the work, “good tidings according to Matthew”. And here again we see the Incarnation at work. Christ is God Incarnate, the fullest Revelation of God to His people. To know the Father, we must know the Son. And the principle way we know the Son is through his witnesses, and especially through the four evangelists.

We might put it like this: Christ, God Incarnate, is the embodied revelation of God, and the content of that revelation. The Church—the Apostles and their heirs, the multitude of saints, and all the rest of us—as the Mystical Body of Christ is also in a way the embodied revelation of God, and specifically the means of transmitting that revelation. The Church says that general revelation ended with the Apostles, and this is certainly true, but in another sense revelation is continually on-going as we encounter Christ in the scriptures and pass Him along to others. The content of revelation is unchanged and unchanging, but Christ will continually reveal it to each of us, if only we let Him. Erasmo says,

We come to see who God is and experience the depth of his love only by being taken up into the faith of the saints (in this case, St. Matthew), those who proclaim to us by the witness of their life and words the reality of the God who inhabits them.

When God descends to earth and enters human history, He doesn’t do so by halves.

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