During this Lenten season, we will be studying “The Sermon on the Mount” beginning with Chapter 5 of Matthew and seeing how far we get as the 6 weeks go on. I will post on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. The structure will be a little loose–however there will be a Question each time, a meditation for each time, and an advance notice of the reading for the next time. I would appreciate it if you would sign up with your email address so that you can receive notification of when a new post appears. And I would REALLY appreciate it if you would participate by commenting with your thoughts and questions.
I am a Catholic, so I will be referring to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) sometimes. If you have one, read along. For those who do not, I will summarize the reading from the CCC. This is a good opportunity for my non-Catholic brothers and sisters to learn about what the Catholic Faith teaches and how very biblical our faith is. I will not post the Bible verses. I will expect that you will have read them before or after reading this.
Now, let’s begin:
From the Divine Office for the Day
The Lord says: the kind of fast that pleases me is sharing your food with the hungry and sheltering the poor and homeless. Do this and I will listen to your prayers; when you call on me I will say: I am here. — Isaiah 58: 6, 7,
Matthew’s Gospel & The Sermon on the Mount (Chaps. 5-7)
Matthew’s Gospel consists of alternating panels of narrative and discourse. There are five story collections separated by 5 main speeches. These are framed by an introductory prologue (Chaps. 1-2) and a climatic epilogue (Chaps 26-28.) The repeated expression “when Jesus (had) finished,” occurs at the end of each of the 5 discourses and serves as a transition back to the storyline (7:28; 11:1: 13:53; 19:1; 26:1.) It might seem that Matthew presents us 5 books as a new Torah for the new People of God.
Matthew’s Gospel has as its central theme “the kingdom of heaven.” More about this later. For now, it is good to know that this expression appears more than 30 times throughout the Gospel. (Time for all the OCD readers to get their bibles and count.)
The Sermon on the Mount (Chaps. 5-7) is the first discourse in the First Book which is about John the Baptist and the Early Ministry of Jesus. This book begins with Chapter 3.
The Sermon on the Mount is a collection of Jesus’ teaching on Christian living and His perfection of the Old Covenant moral laws. (5:17) The Sermon envisions our heavenly destiny based upon our rejection or acceptance of Jesus and His teaching. (CCC 1965-68)
Summary of CCC 1965-1968
The Law of the Gospel is the perfection here on earth of the Divine Law; natural and revealed. It is expressed particularly in the Sermon on the Mount. The New Law is the “grace of the Holy Spirit” given to the faithful through faith in Christ. This grace uses the Sermon on the Mount to teach us what must be done to live the New Law and uses the sacraments to give us this grace to do it.
In the Beatitudes, the New Law fulfills the Divine promises of the Old Law by elevating them and orienting them toward the “kingdom of heaven.” The Lord’s Sermon, far from abolishing or devaluing the moral prescriptions of the Old Law, releases their hidden potential. (More on this later, too.)
- “If anyone should meditate with devotion and perspicacity on the Sermon our Lord gave on the Mount, as we read in the Gospel of St. Matthew, he will doubtless find there. . .the perfect way of the Christian life. . .This Sermon contains. . .all the precepts needed to shape one’s life.”
This is a very good reason to use the Sermon on the Mount during Lent as we pray, fast, and give alms. God bless you all who are taking this journey with me.
Question of the Day: To whom is the New Law specifically addressed in Matthew 5?
Meditation of the Day: The New Law is called the Law of Love, the Law of Grace, and the Law of Freedom. How do you live the New Law so that others see love, grace, and freedom in your life?
Reading for next time: Matthew 5: 1-12