More than 100 people attended a presentation entitled, “An Invitation to the Kingdom of Heaven,” by the Rev. Timothy Schehr on Tuesday, October 22 in the Bartlett Pastoral Center at the Athenaeum. The event was sponsored by the Priestly Formation Office of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. The Most Rev. Joseph Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop of Cincinnati, was in attendance.
“Father Schehr is a great teacher, in fact I tried to take as many classes as I could from him while I was here at the Athenaeum,” said Bishop Binzer. He added, “What could be better than people gathering to learn more about the Scriptures and grow in their faith and, as Father Schehr says, ‘to see’?”
Fr. Schehr walked attendees through the Gospel of Matthew from the viewpoint of “the kingdom of heaven,” a phrase appearing only in this gospel among the Synoptics. Through a series of contrasts Matthew gradually awakens his readers to the superior kingdom proclaimed by Jesus Christ. The opening chapter introduces this contrast by highlighting in the genealogy of Jesus the exile to Babylon. Into a world of darkness and death, Jesus enters as the newborn king of the Jews proclaiming a kingdom of peace and healing.
A series of five proclamations by this new king lead to a deeper understanding of this kingdom: the character of its servants (Mt 5-7); the challenges faced by the apostles who preach the kingdom (Mt 10); the kingdom’s power to nourish people spiritually (Mt 13); humility as the standard of greatness in the kingdom (Mt 18); and finally the everlasting reign of Jesus as King (Mt 24-25). Each proclamation is followed by a narrative section exhibiting in dramatic ways what was proclaimed by the new king.
Attendees were invited to ask questions throughout the presentation. They also spent some time reading and reflecting on the powerful encounter between Jesus and the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15:21-31. Fr. Schehr proposed that this scene vividly portrays the woman’s great faith and at the same time challenges the apostles to recognize the universal scope of the kingdom and its life-giving message.