Conclusion of Chapter 5: 33-48 Probably the Toughest!

Next week, we will pick up the Sermon on the Mount in Chapter 6.  We are moving right along as we are over half-way through Lent.  It’s “gut-check” time.  Is our Lent helping us to get holy?  Are we praying, fasting, and giving alms (practicing works of mercy?)  Are we rushing less and reading more?  Are we getting to know Jesus; so we can better know the Father?  Are we attending Mass more often?  Have we gone to the Sacrament of reconciliation, yet or planning to go soon?  Or is it time for a course correction?  There’s plenty of opportunity to turn things around.

Concerning Swearing Oaths

(5:33) not swearing falsely:  Jesus forbids private oath swearing.  In the context of a public oath, God’s Holy Name is invoked to bring blessing to the upright and curses to those who violate their oaths.  Evidently, during Jesus’ time, people swore by heaven, hell, and Jerusalem (5: 34-35) for their own personal advantage and therefore, did not take their oaths seriously.

(5: 37)  Let what you say be simply “yes” or “no”; anything else is from the Evil One.

Concerning Retaliation

(5:38)  an eye for an eye:  Jesus forbids the misuse of Mosaic Law to justify private vengeance.  Exodus 21:24 was meant to limit retribution; (cf. Lev. 24-20; Deut 19: 21)  The punishment had to fit the crime and not exceed it.  Jesus eliminates a policy of retaliation from personal life.

(cf. Rom 12: 17)  Repay no one evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all.

(5: 41) if any one forces you:   Roman soldiers in NT Palestine could recruit and compel Jews into temporary service. (i.e. Simon of Cyrene in 27: 32)  Jesus wants ungrudging generosity beyond the call of duty.

Love for Enemies

(5: 43)  Jesus considers this one of the two great commandments of Mosaic Law.  Unfortunately, the Jews had a very narrow definition of “neighbor.”  It had to be someone exactly like them.  (CCC 1933)  hate your enemy:  Israel’s warfare laws were meant to wipe out Gentiles so the Jews wouldn’t imitate their idolatry.  Jews in NT Palestine disdained the Gentiles that lived among them.  Jesus broadens the definition of neighbor to include the Gentiles; even the Romans.

(5:48)  You. . .must be perfect. . :  New Covenant righteousness has a standard of mercy.  Jesus calls us to imitate God’s perfect compassion.  Our Father is kind and merciful to good and evil alike; so we must extend mercy even to our enemies.  (CCC 1968; 2842)

(Lk 6: 36)  Jesus gives holiness a new focus, defining it as mercy that reaches out to others.

(CCC 2842)  . . .it is impossible to keep the Lord’s commandment by imitating the Divine Model from outside; there has to be a vital participation, coming from the depths of the heart. . .

So there you have it: chapter 5 of the Sermon on the Mount.  This is Jesus’ recipe for a good and holy life here on earth and an eternity with Him in Heaven.  Let us pray that we will hold Him and His precepts in our hearts and live the two greatest commandments as He explains them in St. Matthew’s Gospel.

Good Samaritan

The Good Samaritan

Next week:  Begin Chapter 6: 1-15

Study Question:  (CCC 1933)  How does this explain our duty to expand our definition of who is our neighbor?

Meditation:  Chapter 5: 46-47


Filed under Almsgiving, Catholic, Christian, Fasting, Lent, Prayer, Sacrifice, The Cross

5 responses to “Conclusion of Chapter 5: 33-48 Probably the Toughest!

  1. SR

    “from the depths of the heart.” It begins there and ends there. Thanks for post and God Bless, SR


  2. Lori Matthews

    unfortunately the greatest commandment is wielded most often like a weapon against true christians whenever a christian deems something immoral.


    • Mainly, non-Christians use the “judge not, lest ye be judged” comment in most of those instances. Love does not mean that we love evil. It means that we have to love the evil-doer even while hating the evil that is done by that person. However, most people do not understand that and it is kinda hard for us to separate what someone does with who they are. That’s why I think this is one of the hardest parts of the Sermon on the Mount and probably one of the least understood.

      Thanks for reading, daughter. and Commenting.


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