Matthew's Sketch of Mary

[Arcabas,
Christ Pantocrator and the Four Evangelists] Matthew went beyond the simple Jewish background of Paul's description of the woman who gave Jesus life. He also surpassed the abrupt and even disconcerting image of Mary that Mark offered. Matthew's image is that of the Mother of the Messiah who is also a virgin espoused to Joseph of the house of David. She is Jewish in the lineage of Jesus and Davidic through the reverence and acceptance Joseph has for her and the child to be born. She represents a promise to the Gentiles or the Nations because she, too, like Abraham is among those who believe in God's promise of salvation.

Chapters 1 and 2; 12:46-50; and 13:53-58

[the genealogy concludes with:]
...Mary, of her was born Jesus who is called the Messiah.

18 This is how Jesus Christ came to be born. His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they came to live together she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.
19 Her husband Joseph, being a man of honor and wanting to spare her publicity, decided to divorce her informally.
20 He had made up his mind to do this when the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit.
21 She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins.
22 Now all this took place to fulfill the words spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

23 The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son
and they will call him Emmanuel

a name which means God-is-with-us
24 When Joseph woke up he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do: he took his wife to his home
25 and, though he had not had intercourse with her, she gave birth to a son; and he named him Jesus. [Jerusalem Bible]

After Jesus had been born at Bethlehem in Judaea during the reign of King Herod, some wise men came to Jerusalem from the east.
2 "Where is the infant king of the Jews?" they asked. "We saw his star as it rose and have come to do him homage."
3 When King Herod heard this he was perturbed, and so was the whole of Jerusalem.
4 He called together all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, and enquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
5 "At Bethlehem in Judaea," they told him for this is what the prophet wrote:

6 And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
you are by no means least among the leaders of Judah,
for out of you will come a leader
who will shepherd my people Israel.

7 Then Herod summoned the wise men to see him privately. He asked them the exact date on which the star had appeared,
8 and sent them on to Bethlehem. "Go and find out all about the child," he said "and when you have found him, let me know, so that I too may go and do him homage."
9 Having listened to what the king had to say, they set out. And there in front of them was the star they had seen rising; it went forward and halted over the place where the child was.
10 The sight of the star filled them with delight,
11 and going into the house they saw the child with his mother Mary, and falling to their knees they did him homage. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh.
12 But they were warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, and returned to their own country by a different way.

13 After they had left, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Get up, take the child and his mother with you, and escape into Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, because Herod intends to search for the child and do away with him."
14 So Joseph got up and, taking the child and his mother with him, left that night for Egypt,
15 where he stayed until Herod was dead. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken through the prophet:

I called my son out of Egypt!

16 Herod was furious when he realized that he had been outwitted by the wise men, and in Bethlehem and its surrounding district he had all the male children killed who were two years old or under, reckoning by the date he had been careful to ask the wise men.
17 It was then that the words spoken through the prophet Jeremiah were fulfilled:

A voice was heard in Ramah,
sobbing and loudly lamenting:
it was Rachel weeping for her children,
refusing to be comforted
because they were no more.

19After Herod's death, the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt
20 and said, "Get up, take the child and his mother with you and go back to the land of Israel, for those who wanted to kill the child are dead."
21 So Joseph got up and, taking the child and his mother with him, went back to the land of Israel.
22 But when he learnt that Archelaus had succeeded his father Herod as ruler of Judaea he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he left for the region of Galilee.
23 There he settled in a town called Nazareth. In this way the words spoken through the prophets were to be fulfilled:

He will be called a Nazarene.
[Jerusalem Bible]

46 While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him.

[47 Someone told him, "Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, asking to speak to you."] 48 But he replied to the man who told him, "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?" 49 And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, and sister, and mother."

54 He came to his hometown and began to teach the people in their synagogue, so that they were astounded and said, "Where did this man get this wisdom and these deeds of power?
55 Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?
56 And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all this?"
57 And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, "Prophets are not without honor except in their own country and in their own house."
58 And he did not do many deeds of power there, because of their unbelief.

Matthew went beyond the simple Jewish background of Paul's description of the woman who gave Jesus life. He also surpassed the abrupt and even disconcerting image of Mary that Mark offered. Matthew's image is that of the Mother of the Messiah who is also a virgin espoused to Joseph of the house of David. She brings to a conclusion the long expectation for a Davidic Messiah as is seen in Matthew's use of Isaiah 7:14, for she is also a daughter in the line of Abraham her ancestor in faith. She is virgin in chapter one; mother in chapter two. She is Jewish in the lineage of Jesus and Davidic through the reverence and acceptance Joseph has for her and the child to be born. She represents a promise to the Gentiles or the Nations because she, too, like Abraham is among those who believe in God's promise of salvation.

Matthew has completed what Paul began in his letters, namely, the Jewishness of Jesus and his mother Mary. All that Paul hinted at and all that Mark recorded is now taken up by Matthew in a developed biblical tradition.

Matthew presents Jesus as the fulfillment of what the evangelist understood to be the purpose of the Hebrew Scriptures. He uses fulfillment formulas and texts more often than all three of the remaining evangelists. His special emphasis on Jesus as Messiah continues not only in the birth narrative but also in the ministry of Jesus and in the Paschal Mysteries. Matthew thus has prepared us for the next stage of Christological and Marian development. He has spoken reverently of the Mother of the Messiah. He sets the stage for Luke who will allow the virgin to speak for herself.


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This page, maintained by The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute, Dayton, Ohio 45469-1390, and created by Varun Gade , was last modified Wednesday, 01/07/2009 10:53:08 EST by Omar Memon . Please send any comments to jroten1@udayton.edu.