The account of the Magi in the Gospel according to Matthew is given as a manifestation of the Incarnation, not only as a figure of the universal redemption of Christ the High Priest.1

In fact, of the senses of Scripture, the interpretation of the Magi as manifestation of the Incarnation seems to be the more literal one. Therefore, since the literal sense is the foundation of all other senses and is the primary intention of the human author, it makes sense for St. Matthew, focusing on the Incarnation, to discuss the Magi at length.

But why does St. Luke, primarily interested in Christ as Priest, detail the Nativity? To be continued...
1. At least, according to St. Thomas' interpretation.

Nativity vs. Adoration

Another comparison of the Gospels according to Matthew and Luke makes one question St. Thomas' distinction between the two. For, as has been said, St. Thomas claims that, "Matthew takes up describing the carnal generation of Christ...Luke, however, chiefly intends to commend in Christ the priestly character."1 Why, then, does St. Luke present a more detailed exposition of the Nativity of Christ, while St. Matthew emphasizes more the Adoration of the Magi? It would seem that the Evangelist wanting to describe the Incarnation would spend more time talking about the Nativity, and the one focusing on Christ the High Priest - who reconciled the world to God2 - would highlight the gentile kings coming from afar to worship the Infant King.

To be continued...
(meaning: I don't have an answer yet)
1. Super Evangelium Matthaei, Ch. 1, lect.2
2. ST, III, Q.22, a.1, c.

Lauda Sion

The Institution of the Eucharist - Joos van Wassenhove (active c.1460-80)

Sequence for the Octave of Corpus Christi

Lauda Sion Salvatorem;
lauda ducem et pastorem
in hymnis et canticis
Quantum potes, tantum aude
quia major omni laude,
nec laudare sufficis.

Laudis thema specialis
Panis vivus et vitalis,
hodie proponitur.
Quem in sacrae mensa cenae
turbae fratrum duodenae,
datum non ambigitur.

Sit laus plena, sit sonora,
sit jucunda, sit decora,
mentis jubilatio
Dies enim solemnis agitur,
in qua mensae prima recolitur
hujus institutio.

In hac mensa novi Regis,
novum Pascha, novae legis,
phase vetus terminat.
Vetustatem novitas
umbram fugat veritas,
noctem lux eliminat.

Quod in cena Christus gessit,
faciendum hoc expressit
in sui memoriam.
Docti sacris institutis,
panem vinum in salutis,
consecramus hostiam.

Dogma datur Christianis,
quod in carnem transit panis
et vinum in sanguinem.
Quod non capis, quod non vides
animosa firmat fides,
praeter rerum ordinem.

Sub diversis speciebus
signis tantum et non rebus
latent res eximiae
Caro cibus, sanguis potus
manet tamen Christus totus
Sub utraque specie.

Asumente non concisus,
non confractus, non divisus:
integer accipitur
Sumit unus, sumunt mile:
quantum isti, tantum ille:
nec sumptus consumitur

Sumunt boni, sumunt mali:
sorte tamen inequali,
vitae vel interitus.
Mors est malis, vita bonis:
vide panis sumptionis
quam sit dispar exitus.

Fracto demum sacramento,
ne vaciles, sed memento,
tantum esse sub fragmento,
quantum toto tegitur.
Nulla rei fit scissura:
signi tantum fit fractura,
qua nec status, nec statura
signati minuitur.

Ecce panis Angelorum,
factus cibus viatorum:
vere panis filiorum,
non mittendum canibus.
In figuris praesignatur
cum Isaac immolatur:
Agnus Paschae deputatur:
datur manna patribus.

Bone pastor, panis vere,
Jesu, nostri miserere:
Tu nos pasce, nos tuere:
tu nos bona fac videre
in terra viventium.
Tu qui cuncta scis et vales:
qui nos pascis hic mortales:
tuos ibi commensales,
coheredes et sodales,
fac sanctorum civium.

Amen. Alleluia.

Praise thou, Sion, praise thy Saviour!
Praise thy Prince with all thy fervour!
Anthems to thy Shepherd sing.
All thou canst, do thou endeavour,
Yet thy praise can equal never
Such as merits thy great King.

Duty this today thou'rt owing,
Bread the living, life-bestowing,
Full to honour with Thy praise.
Same the bread that Christ in leaving
To the twelve, each one receiving,
Gave, no one doubt can raise.

Let thy praise be loud and swelling,
Be it joyous, loud and welling
From a full, exulting heart.
Mem'ry of that feast we render,
Keeping rites in solemn splendour,
When Christ did first Himself impart.

This new Feast, the old repeating,
Newer King and Pasch revealing,
Usher in a newer rite.
What is new to age succeedeth:
Place to Truth the shadow cedeth;
Radiance puts the gloom to flight.

What He did, that eve reclining,
Done anew He willed, assigning
This a token of His love
By His sacred precepts guided,
Make we bread and wine provided,
A saving victim from above.

Christian truth uncontroverted
Is that bread and wine converted
Sacred flesh and blood become.
Mind and eye whilst unperceiving
What's beyond their own conceiving
Strenuous faith to them brings home.

Hidden under varied species,
Signs, not things, the untold riches,
Choice and rare beyond conceit.
Flesh and Blood our life sustaining,
Christ intact in both remaining,
'Neath each sign we greet.

Christ, to whomsoever given,
By Him is neither rent nor riven
Each unparted Christ receives.
Come there one, come there many,
Each partakes as much as any,
Nor the less for other leaves.

Good and bad this banquet sharing
Are an unlike lot preparing,
Life or death to either falls.
Life to those, to these perdition,
Though to both the same fruition,
How unlike the fate that calls.

When the host in pieces breakest,
If thou waver, thou mistakest,
For each fragment thou partkest
Holds no less than does the whole
Of the substance no division,
Signs alone admit partition,
Whence unlessened the condition
Of the symboled Body and Soul.

Lo ! angelic bread reviving
Pilgrims worn to heaven striving,
Children from it strength deriving,
Sacred bread to dogs denied.
This the ancient types saluted,
Isaac victim constituted,
And the lamb for pasch deputed,
Manna to our sins supplied.

Jesu, bread of life, protect us!
Shepherd kind, do not reject us!
In Thy happy fold collect us,
And partakers of the bliss elect us
Which shall never see an end.
Thou the wisest and the mightiest,
Who us here with food delightest,
Seat us at Thy banquet brightest,
With the blessed Thou invitest,
An eternal feast to spend.

Amen. Alleluia.

If St. Matthew is principally concerned with describing Christ's generation according to the flesh (as has been said), why does he record our Lord's genealogy through Joseph and not through Mary?

First, it is important to realize that Christ's carnal descent (at least insofar as he is of David's line, thus fulfilling the prophecies1) can be inferred even from Joseph's ancestry. This is because it was a custom among the Jews to marry into the same tribe and family.2 That Mary, as well as Joseph, was of the house of David, can be seen from the fact that they both return to the city of David when ordered to return to their own cities for enrollment.3 Therefore, giving Joseph's genealogy is sufficient to show that Jesus was biologically of the House of David.

But why not just give Mary's genealogy? Here, St. Matthew demonstrates in a more subtle way how God "humbled himself to share in our humanity."4 For it was a custom among the Jews, in fact, a custom among most cultures, to trace genealogies through the father. The Holy Spirit inspired St. Matthew to follow this custom in order to show Christ's assumption of the whole human condition. Given that our Lord's carnal generation through Mary and her Davidic line could also be shown at the same time, by respecting the human custom of patriarchal genealogy the condescension of the Incarnation is all the more emphasized.

1. See, for example, II Kings 7:12, 1 Chr. 17:11, Ps. 131:11, Jer. 23:5
2. c.f. Num 36:6-10
3. Luke 2:1-5
4. Roman Mass, Offertory Prayer

Gospel Genealogies

There is no shortage of non-believers who blaspheme Holy Scripture by citing its numerous "errors and contradictions". A common complaint concerns the supposed contradictions in the genealogies of Christ presented in the Gospels according the Matthew and Luke.1
Worse than the incredibly bad logic of atheists, however, is the attempt of some nominally Catholic scholars to impute error to Holy Writ.2 This is, of course, against the Church's teachings, who holds the inerrancy of Scripture3 and the historicity of the Gospels4.

St. Thomas, in his Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, points out differences in the genealogies much more clearly than the heretics. Such discrepancies are not only not troubling to the Catholic scholar, they are helpful in understanding the texts. He groups the differences into five categories:

  1. 1) Difference in Position: St. Matthew starts out his Gospel with our Lord's genealogy, but St. Luke waits until Ch. 3, after the baptism in the Jordon. As St. Augustine says, this difference is due to the different intentions of the Evangelists. The whole of the Gospel according to Matthew is principally concerned with describing the generation of Christ according to the flesh. Hence it is entitled "the book of the generation of Jesus Christ". Therefore it is fitting that it begins with the genealogy. The Gospel according to Luke, however, is principally concerned with the priestly character of Christ, that is, with Christ's expiation of sins. Therefore, it begins with Zachary performing his priestly functions in the temple. It is fitting, then, that St. Luke place the genealogy after our Lord's baptism, which is the means by which sins are removed.

  2. 2) Difference in Order: St. Matthew begins with Abraham and descends down through the generations to Christ. St. Luke, on the other hand, begins with Christ and ascends through Adam to God. This is due to the different purposes of the aforementioned offices of Christ, Son of Man and High Priest. "He who was the Son of God became the Son of man, that man, having been taken into the Word, and receiving the adoption, might become the son of God."5 St. Matthew emphasizes the former part of that process, St. Luke the latter. Therefore, it is fitting that St. Matthew proceeds by descent, St. Luke by ascent.

  3. 3) Difference in Manner: St. Matthew connects adjoining generations with the verb "begot", while St. Luke uses the phrase "was of". Because the descending generations recorded by Matthew are begotten, Matthew has recorded the physical, carnal ancestors of Christ. The ascending ancestors of Christ recorded by St. Luke, on the other hand, simply belong to subsequent generations. This formulation allows Luke to record legal parents, according to either of two Jewish customs: the brother of a widow without children must marry the widow6, so that the legal father (the deceased) may not be the biological father; the parents of a woman without male siblings would sometimes adopt her husband7, so that his legal ancestors (the wife's biological ancestors) may not be his biological ancestors.

  4. 4) Difference in End: Matthew begins with Abraham and descends down to Christ. Luke starts with Christ and ascends, not only to Abraham, but all the way to Adam and to God. This has to do with their respective audiences: St. Matthew is writing to Hebrews, to whom Abraham is more known than Christ; but St. Luke writes to Greeks, who only know of Abraham by hearing of Christ. And so Matthew introduces Christ to the Hebrews through Abraham, while Luke introduces Abraham and Abraham's God to the Greeks through the man Christ.

  5. 5) Difference in Persons Enumerated: St. Thomas has already explained the simple difference in names by distinguishing between legal and biological parents. Here, he points out that Matthew includes women in the genealogy, but Luke does not. Particularly, the women St. Matthew includes are all known sinners: Thamar was a fornicator8, Ruth was a idolater (because she was a Gentile)9, and Bathseeba was an adulteress10. This could be to show that Christ descended through sinful man, in the form of a sinner (although without sin), to redeem sinners.
1. c.f. Forgery in Christianity (about 3/4 of the way down the page), and Bible Perspectives and Christian Contradictions to cite a couple. -WARNING: these sites present blasphemous and ridiculously incorrect readings of Scripture.-
2. For example, Fr. Raymond E. Brown, The Birth of the Messiah (pp. 93-94). -WARNING: Fr. Brown was not an orthodox scripture scholar.-
3. Pope Leo XIII, Providentissimus Deus, 21
4. Vatican Council II, Dei Verbum, 19
5. St. Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses, Bk III, Ch 19:1
6. Deut 25:5-6
7. c.f. 1 Chron 2:34
8. Gen. 38:24
9. c.f. Ruth 1
10. II Kings 11

I've started working on St. Thomas' Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew. You can check out the outline based on his commentary here, even while it is a work in progress. (The outline will be in Latin until I complete it, then I will translate it.)

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