Sermon on the Mount Part 1

Blessed is the man who hath not walked in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stood in the way of sinners, nor sat in the chair of pestilence. But his will is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he shall meditate day and night. (Psalm 1)

It is well that we meditate on the law of Christ, and there is no place we find this more profoundly written than in the Sermon on the Mount, especially as given in Matthew’s Gospel in the fifth, sixth, and seventh chapters.  “And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain, and when he was set down, his disciples came unto him. And opening his mouth, he taught them…” (Matt 5:1-2)

In Pope Benedict’s Jesus of Nazareth Volume I, he says, reflecting on the Sermon on the Mount, that “In a word, the true morality of Christianity is Love.” (p.99) “The law of the Lord” is therefore none other than the law of Christ, which is why the pope can say just before this that “…the Sermon on the Mount is a hidden Christology.” (p.99)

Too often we are of the opinion that morality is a set of rules.  While it is true that there are certainly objective “dos and don’ts in the way we should live, these are a means, and not the end.  The end is love, for the end is God, and “God is love.” (1John4:8) In fact, the verse stated in full says that “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”  Therefore, our focus in the weeks that follow will be to learn the truth that “…in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matt 7:12)

To truly understand any of this, we must make it our primary task in life to know Christ. As Thomas a Kempis says in The Imitation of Christ, “He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, saith the Lord. These are the words of Christ; and they teach us how far we must imitate His life and character, if we seek true illumination, and deliverance from all blindness of heart. Let it be our most earnest study, therefore, to dwell upon the life of Jesus Christ.”

This in fact could be seen as a commentary on the first Psalm; “Blessed is the man who, on his law, shall meditate day and night” We will return many times to the first Psalm in the course of our reflections, for it is a short prayer that reflects on our ultimate end, of which there are only two.  There is the way of those that love God and neighbor, and live in Christ, seeing Christ in others and loving them.  Those who live in Christ are made righteous, and will inherit the Kingdom of God. “For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.”

We are told, in the Sermon, something that should sound alarming, even shocking, to us, if we take it seriously.  “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”(Matt 5:20) He goes on to command us to “Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matt 5:28)

“And Jesus beholding, said to them: With men this is impossible: but with God all things are possible.” Thanks be to God and the grace merited by His Son on our behalf. Let us thank “Our Father, Who art in Heaven…”

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