By: Fr. Jerome Nyathi

 

Spiritual formation in Matthew

Singleminded commitment is demanded (4,10 cf. Deut 6,4ff). Either God or mammon (6,24).  Singlemindedness demands some ascetic dimension, for example, bodily control is important like fasting.  Note that there is time for fasting and eating.  People cannot fast while the bridegroom is still with them. Singlemindedness also teaches sexual discipline. Jesus does not marry, he prohibits adultery and lust (5,27-8).

Second aspect centres on stress on interiority and on what is hidden.  Blessed are the poor in spirit; praying, almsgiving and fasting is to be done in secret.  Hypocrisy.

Third aspect is an active, practical spirituality (love your neighbour as yourself 19,19). We must also add the ethic of forgiveness and reconciliation here under love (6,14-5).

The spirituality of Matthew is a spirituality for the people of God – said already but the emphasis is that of brotherhood. Spirituality of Matthew therefore involves becoming and being the kind of people Israel was meant to be, an elect people wholeheartedly devoted to the service of God as taught by God’s messiah…p.28.  In short this is the coming of God’s kingdom of heaven on earth here and now.

This spirituality is something which is learned.  Jesus is portrayed as the Wisdom of God who teaches the will of God and summons people to listen (11,29-30).

The spirituality of Mark

Somehow different from a long elaborative Matthew.  Jesus teaching is new and authoritative (1,27). Unlike the fatherhood of God in Matthew, for Mark God is hidden.

It involves a response to the revelation of God (the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ 1,1).  See baptism where God’s voice is heard from heaven 1,11 transfiguration 9,7.  What therefore God has joined …theocentricism 10,9.

Also it involves a response to Jesus the son of God.

Who then is this? 4,41 see also Ps. 107,23-32. Jesus speaks on God’s behalf.

What does Mark story of Jesus reveal about nature and demands of life under God

Listen to him 9,7. He is a teacher who deserves to be listened to, he teaches with authority 1,22 1,27 2,10.  Follow him who is the suffering son of Man 8,34-35

Present experiences of heavenly glory are limited and transitory 9,2-8

Life demands unwavering faith in the all-powerful God, expressed in prayer 9,14-29

Relations among the followers – service to the other.  Household relations –marriage and divorce 10,2-12 children 13-16 and property 17-31.

Spirituality with the eschatological dimension – It is a spirituality oriented on hope for the imminent future.

Spirituality of attentiveness – can also be called watchful discipleship (seeing and watching 14,34,37

Also spiritual insight 4,10ff special revelation 4,24. Following Jesus and becoming agents of the kingdom of God even at the cost of occupation and family ties 10, 28-30 and 13,9-12

Marcan spirituality is imitatio Christi and has an active dimension to it.  Jesus is healer,, teacher, prophet.  He does things for others and with others.  Spirituality for the persecuted, powerless the ‘done to’.

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness 2Cor 12,9.

Spirituality of Luke Acts – You will have joy and gladness

Learning the way of God that is revealed in ChristGod.

It is a response to divine grace revealed in Christ.

Luke believes that a new age has dawned, hence the fulfilment of promises of old.

Luke believes that the new age has dawned with the births of John the Baptist, Jesus, Mary, Elizabeth, Simeon etc.

Luke believes that the new age is the age of the eschatological spirit (comes from the activity of the Spirit.  God is revealed by the spirit.

Luke believes that the new age is a time of salvation prior to the coming of the end.  Time of John and Jesus is special (rejoices in God my saviour 1,47)

Luke believes that the new age is a time of salvation for all people that the grace of God is unrestricted.

Kinds of responses to Grace

One most distinctive aspects of Lucan spirituality is joy.  Lk is known as the gospel of joy.  Out of 326 instances of words for joy in the NT, 53 occur within Luke’s 24 chapters.  In addition words of joy appear 26 times in the acts of the apostles.

Second aspect of Lucan spirituality understood as a response to grace, is repentance and conversionMetanoia, repentance occurs 14 times in the gospel and 11 times in Acts

Third major aspect is faith.  This is associated with believing in Jesus and it brings salvation Acts 16,31. Christians are those who believed Acts 2,44.  This life is nurtured by and expressed through prayer 9,18. Transfiguration – taken to prayer 9,28-36

The spirituality of Jesus has a strong exemplary quality Lord teach us to pray 11,1

Prayer characterised the early church. Apostles were known as the people of prayer.  Holy spirit empowers them to pray.  Vertical dimension strong in Luke

How is God’s presence experienced in Lucan spirituality

Through the Holy Spirit (John, Elizabeth etc)

Through his name – believers in Acts are known as those who call upon the Lord’s name 9,14,21

In the apostolic preaching of salvation Acts 10,44a

In the lives and especially the sufferings of his witnesses.

Singleminded love of God and love of neighbour, danger of attachment to riches, hospitality.

Spirituality of Fourth Gospel

You will know the truth and the truth will set you free

Christian spirituality is living in God’s presence, living in the light of that presence

4th gospel is spiritual gospel.

Johannine spirituality exposed

It is a personal spirituality – It has to do with a persons relationship with God and others 1,14,18.  God is Father and Jesus is Son.This is not to say that this spirituality is individualistic.

It is thoroughly Christocentric. Revelation of God in Christ I AM 14,6 see also Ex. 3,14.  Jesus comes from above

It is a spirituality that is bound up with history and expressing a particular interpretation of history 19,15 no king but Caesar.  Jesus is the Messiah 1,41

Spirituality for tough times

Beloved disciple is present not only at the last supper and at the cross, he is present at the empty tomb as well, ‘he saw and believed’ 20,8

Hence the Spirituality of seeing and believing.