RSS

Tag Archives: sermon on the mount

THE FINEST SERMON EVER PREACHED WAS DELIVERED BY GOD

THE FINEST SERMON EVER PREACHED WAS DELIVERED BY GOD

HOLINESS THROUGH MARY

The finest sermon ever preached was delivered by God, in Person, as He sat on the slopes of a mountain over 2000 years ago: “Blessed are the poor in spirit; the kingdom of Heaven is theirs. Blessed are the patient; they shall inherit the land. Blessed are those who mourn; they shall be comforted. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for holiness; they shall have their fill.”

Christ was challenging the world. Speaking to a group of ordinary, illiterate country people, He told them that their vocation in life was to aspire after the holiness of God Himself. “You are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect… Lay up treasure for yourselves in Heaven… Make it your first care to find the Kingdom of God and His approval… Make your way in by the narrow gate.” Little wonder that St Paul, a few years later, could tell the people of Thessalonica: “What God asks of you is that you should sanctify yourselves.”

Christ lived and taught on this earth to sanctify souls. That was the reason He established His Church. He intended all men to be saints. There is not one kind of Christianity for priests, monks and nuns, and another for people living in the world. To all, St Peter addresses these words: “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a people God means to have for Himself; it is yours to proclaim the exploits of the God Who has called you out of the darkness into His marvellous light.”

Every Christian, in virtue of the fact that he is a Christian, is bound to seek after holiness. Monks and nuns bind themselves by vows to help them in their quest, but the vows do not make the obligation: they simply reinforce and emphasise it. The destination of the Christian life is perfection for all. In every Age of the Church, there have been saints in the world as well as in the cloister. [to be continued]

– Excerpts from Holiness Through Mary by Fr Francis Ripley, copied from a pamphlet by the Universal Rosary Association. For the Association’s contact details, please click here.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

BLESSED ARE THE MERCIFUL (Mt 5:7) – HOW MERCIFUL DO WE NEED TO BE?

Blessed are the merciful

“You probably would feel quite offended if someone were to describe you as a cruel person. Yet, can you truthfully say that you never have caused unnecessary pain to another? You never have harshly criticised another, humiliated another or made cutting remarks to another? If you can answer, ‘Never’ (or even ‘Seldom’) to all such questions, then you are indeed close to the heart of Christ. ‘Blessed are the merciful,’ He has said, ‘for they shall obtain mercy.’

Vigilance, lest power corrupt in us the spirit of mercy

Few of us are so accomplished in this matter of mercy that we can afford to assume that we are included in our Lord’s blessing. Those of us who are in any position of authority, such as employers, supervisors, officials, teachers and religious superiors, have particular need to be vigilant lest power corrupt in us the spirit of mercy. It is so easy to be caustic towards those who cannot strike back.

Having others ‘at our mercy’

Failure in mercy is not confined, of course, to persons explicitly in positions of authority. There are many ways of having others ‘at our mercy’. We have the upper hand, for example, any time we enter a store or a restaurant. Since the customer is always right, clerks, waiters and managers must bear with our discourtesies in silent helplessness.

Often we inflict the deepest pain upon those we love

Often we inflict the deepest pain upon those who are bound to us by love. A husband snarls at his wife or a wife screams at her husband. Sometimes parents excoriate their children out of all proportion, making a capital offence of what is, at worst, a minor misdemeanor.

Venting our anger on the next best person

More often than not, the reason why we are grumpy or snappish toward another is because we have bottled-up feelings of resentment or frustration which press for ventilation. A teacher who has just been reprimanded by his principal, for example, will land like a charge of dynamite on the first pupil who steps out of line in the least degree. Nine-tenths of our temper explosions really do not belong at all to the hapless person who is rocked by our anger. Our victim simply happens to be the nearest and most defenceless object upon whom we can discharge our emotional pressure.

Reacting savagely to minor annoyances

Sometimes it is nervous fatigue or physical distress (such as a headache) which causes us to react savagely to minor annoyances. Like a sick animal, we growl and bare our teeth at anyone, however innocent, who happens to cross our path.

A gentleman never gives pain

Cardinal Newman has described a gentleman as one who never gives pain. A gentleman bears his own inner hurts and tensions with fortitude and does not visit them upon others. It is an infallible sign of a small mind and a weak character when a person is discourteous toward those over whom he has some advantage.

There are times, of course, when a person in authority must administer an admonition or a rebuke. Yet, even this can be done with gentleness and tact. It is so much better to say, ‘You are doing a fine job, George, but there is one small thing which I feel I should call to your attention,’ than to shout, ‘You stupid fool! See what you’ve done!’…

Our Lord Jesus singled out the virtue of mercifulness for special attention

‘Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.’ It is no wonder that Jesus singled out the virtue of mercifulness for such special attention. This is the one virtue above all others which characterises Himself. His patience, His allowance for human weakness, His compassion, His quickness to forgive – all combine to give us confidence as we pray to Him, ‘Lord, have mercy!’

The people whose lives touch ours have enough suffering already. It is inexcusable if we add to their hurt by our discourtesy, ill-temper and vindictiveness. If we cannot be gentle, patient and forgiving toward one another, then Jesus has a right to ask, ‘What price My crucifixion? Was it, then, all in vain?'”

– Fr Leo J. Trese, One Step Enough

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 3, 2015 in Words of Wisdom

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

BIBLE STUDY: BLESSED ARE THE MEEK: FOR THEY SHALL INHERIT THE EARTH (Mt 5:5)

In today’s highly competitive world the virtue of meekness carries a very low rating

“In today’s highly competitive world the virtue of meekness carries a very low rating. The disesteem which many people have for meekness probably stems from their misunderstanding of its nature. If asked to describe a meek person, the average individual would answer, ‘A namby-pamby sort with no spirit. The kind who never stands up for his rights and who is everybody’s doormat.’

It takes a person of strong character to be genuinely meek

This popular concept of meekness is a very mistaken one. The truth is that it takes a person of strong character to be genuinely meek, because the essence of meekness is self-control. A meek person is one who is complete master of his temper and has immense patience toward the stupidity, the weakness and even the malice of other people.

The don’t-cross-me type of person really is a very insecure individual

Psychologists tell us that the easily irritated, don’t-cross-me type of person really is a very insecure individual. His angry reaction to contradiction or annoyance is a defence against his inner feeling of uncertainty concerning his own basic worth. Only a man (or woman) who has a wholesome confidence in his ability to deal with the demands of life is able to remain calm when crossed or contradicted or frustrated. Such a person has no need to shout and smash in order to maintain his own self-respect.

The truly meek man is anything but a weakling

The truly meek man is anything but a weakling. Yet, he is a humble person, inasmuch as he does not have an inflated sense of his own importance in God’s scheme of things. With humility he has a sense of humour, which means the wonderful gift of being able to laugh at himself. He has a sense of proportion, too, and understands that charity is much more important than self-vindication, that victory over self is much more significant than victory over another. The self-assertive, domineering person may win more battles than the meek man, but it is the meek man who wins the war.

How can I tell whether I possess the virtue of meekness?

If I wish to know whether I possess the virtue of meekness, there are a few pertinent questions which I can ask myself. For example, when an argument develops, do I raise my voice and feel a compulsion to prove myself right? Am I sharply critical of the mistakes of others, particularly when those mistakes inconvenience me? Do I react angrily to opposition? Am I irritable and snappish when others question my competency or the wisdom of my decisions? Do I brood unhappily over criticisms directed against me or go into a sullen pout when blocked from doing something I want to do? If I have to answer, ‘Yes, usually,’ to any of these questions, then I still am weak in the virtue of meekness.

Victory over self is much more significant than victory over another

There will be times, of course, when circumstances make it necessary for us to administer a correction to another person and to do so with firmness. However, firmness – even adamant firmness – is not incompatible with meekness. It is quite possible to be firm and still be gentle. In fact, the quiet firmness of the meek is likely to be much more effective than the thundering of the autocrat.

Jesus promises eternal life to those who cultivate meekness

No one is perfect, and even a meek person may have his bad moments in times of fatigue and stress. The great difference here between the meek and the non-meek is that the meek man feels ashamed of himself after an outburst of temper and is quick to make amends if his sharpness has hurt another. The self-assertive person, on the other hand, tells himself that his outburst was fully warranted. He must justify himself in his own mind to protect himself against his inner insecurity.

In view of the many ancillary virtues (humility, patience, charity, self-control) involved in the practice of meekness, it is no wonder that Jesus promises eternal life to those who cultivate this virtue. When Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the earth,’ He was not promising world domination to the man of quiet strength. Jesus was saying, in poetic imagery, that the meek shall possess all things forever – which is heaven.

Meekness does not come easy. But, in terms of happiness here as well as hereafter, its development is well worth the effort.”

– Fr. Leo J. Trese, One Step Enough, 1966

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

TODAY’S GOSPEL READING (MATTHEW 5:1-12)

HOW HAPPY ARE THE POOR IN SPIRIT

Seeing the crowds, Jesus went up the hill. There he sat down and was joined by his disciples. Then he began to speak. This is what he taught them:

“How happy are the poor in spirit;
theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Happy the gentle:
they shall have the earth for their heritage.
Happy those who mourn:
they shall be comforted.
Happy those who hunger and thirst for what is right:
they shall be satisfied.
Happy the merciful:
they shall have mercy shown to them.
Happy the pure in heart:
they shall see God.
Happy the peacemakers:
they shall be called sons of God.
Happy those who are persecuted in the cause of right:
theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Happy are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward be great in heaven; this is how they persecuted the prophets before you.”

V. The Gospel of the Lord.
R. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Tags: , , , ,

“BLESSED ARE THEY WHO MOURN” (Mt 5:4) – FOR WHAT SHALL WE MOURN?

GOD NEVER IS CLOSER THAN WHEN, HUMANLY SPEAKING, LIFE SEEMS MOST HOPELESS. UNLESS HE CHOOSES TO BLOCK GOD OUT OF HIS LIFE, NO MAN EVER CAN TRUTHFULLY SAY, ‘I SUFFER ALONE’.

“If you are of cheerful disposition and generally inclined to look on the bright side of life, you may feel a little uncomfortable as you listen to Jesus say, in His Sermon on the Mount, ‘Blessed are they who mourn.’ You may feel a twinge of guilt at the thought of your own inveterate cheerfulness, and may wonder whether it is quite Christian to feel as happy as you do. Just what does Jesus mean, anyway?

WHAT DOES JESUS MEAN, ANYWAY?

His first meaning is a literal one. He means exactly what He says. Jesus was addressing a crowd of people who, for the most part, were poor and who daily lived with sorrow. There was no social security, no unemployment insurance, no farm subsidies. There were few parents among his listeners who did not know at times the awful anxiety of being unable to provide bread for their children.

The science of medicine was rudimentary, too. There were no wonder drugs. The infant mortality rate was high. Childhood diseases and adult illnesses were too often fatal. Death and grief were frequent intruders in the homes of Christ’s hearers.

THE MEANING OF SUFFERING

Jesus wanted them (and us) to know that God is not indifferent to the sorrows of His children. Indeed, there is nothing which exerts a more powerful claim upon God for His compassionate attention than does the mental anguish of persons of good will. This is the type of suffering which is closest to the agony of God’s own Son.

God will give the strength to survive sorrow. God will give the grace to make grief a purifying and sanctifying force and a sure path to heaven. God never is closer than when, humanly speaking, life seems most hopeless. Unless he chooses to block God out of his life, no man ever can truthfully say, ‘I suffer alone.’ And in heaven there surely will be, very close to the martyrs, a degree of glory and happiness reserved for those who have been burdened with mental distress.

MORE THAN JUST THE LITERAL SENSE

When Jesus said, ‘Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted,’ He meant His word to be taken literally, but He did not l i m i t His meaning to the literal sense. No matter how free from other grief we may be, we all have the obligation to mourn for our sins, to sorrow for the times we have rejected God’s love and for the graces we have wasted. From this type of grief – tempered by our confidence in God’s mercy – we never must be free.

THOSE WHO REJECT GOD OR DO NOT KNOW HIM

There is still another kind of sorrow to which the Christian must not be a stranger. This is the sorrow engendered in us by the suffering – spiritual, mental and physical – of others.

We should be deeply concerned, for example, that so many of our brothers and sisters live their lives completely divorced from God. We should be concerned that so many choose to make sin a way of life. We should be concerned that so many have not yet heard of the Gospel message of God’s love and Christ’s redemption. We should be concerned that there are so many divisions among Christians. We should be concerned that there is so much hatred in the world, so many people at one another’s throats. We should be concerned that millions of our fellow men do not have decent shelter or enough to eat.

WE ARE LESS MOVED TO WEEP THAN TO TAKE ACTION

There is more than enough reason for us to mourn if we have the sense of responsibility for our neighbour which, as members of Christ’s Body, we must have. This is a type of grief which expresses itself less in the emotions than in the will. We are less moved to weep than we are to take action.

THE GRIEF WE SHARE WITH CHRIST AT THE MISERY OF OTHERS

What action we can take, either individually or as a member of a group, will vary with each of us. We shall pray for sufferers, of course, but we may not be content with prayer alone if there is something we can d o . The grief which we share with Christ at the misery of others is a dynamic force. It seeks for an outlet, for a deed to be done, and is not content until it has found that outlet.

If we have to confess, ‘I have done nothing during this past month (or two months or a year) to alleviate human suffering,’ we have reason to feel uneasy. We can hardly qualify for Christ’s promise: the promise of God’s healing and comforting embrace, here and hereafter, for all who mourn.”
– Fr Leo J. Trese, 1966

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

“WE DRAW FROM THE CHURCH’S LIVING STOREHOUSE OF MEMORY”

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS

• “The Decalogue appears as the path of gratitude, the response of love, made possible because in faith we are receptive to the experience of God’s transforming love for us. (Lumen Fidei 46).

• My children, do not let anyone lead you astray. (1 John 3:7)

• The Church is not merely an institution or an organisation but a living, organic, holy and sacred body. We draw from its living storehouse of memory. This memory consists of four key elements: the profession of faith (the Creed); the celebration of the seven sacraments, the path of the Ten Commandments, and prayer. Pope Francis presents the Ten Commandments as ‘the pathway of gratitude,’ the way of life we take out of joyful thankfulness for all we have received. At the heart of faith is coming to know the love of God and then through professing our faith, receiving the sacraments, by the way we live.

• Lord, teach me to live by the wisdom of the Decalogue and the new life of the Beatitudes. Amen.”
– This short meditation was published in “A Journey of Prayer for Advent and Christmastide 2013” by AlivePublishing. For information about their booklets, please visit http://www.alivepublishing.co.uk (external link).

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

THE SALVATION HISTORY OF ALL MANKIND AS REVEALED IN THE BIBLE: CITIZENS OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD

PREPARING THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN

“In Galilee Jesus announced to the people that the kingdom of heaven was at hand. He invited them to repent of their sins that they might enter the kingdom. He insinuated that He was the Messiah by assuming the title ‘Son of Man,’ and by claiming to be the ‘Lord of the Sabbath.’ He also claimed the divine power to forgive the sins of men. He authenticated these claims by the miraculous cures He worked. The nature of His teaching and His claims and the miracles which accompanied them excited the admiration of the people. Some, such as Peter and Andrew, James, John and Nathanael, attached themselves to Him as disciples. But the Pharisees refused to accept Him or His claims and resolved to do away with Him.

THE CHOICE OF HIS TWELVE APOSTLES SHOWS JESUS CHRIST’S INTENTION OF EXTENDING AND BROADENING HIS WORK ON EARTH

Despite their opposition Jesus continued His work to establish the kingdom of heaven. Some time after the crystalisation of the opposition of the Pharisees to Him He took the first definitive measures to ensure the continuation and the extension of His work on earth. He went up a mountain and prayed to God. Then He summoned His disciples and from them He chose twelve Apostles to assist Him in His work. As St Mark says:

‘… he appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them forth to preach. To them he gave power to cure sicknesses and to cast out devils. There were Simon, to whom he gave the name Peter, and James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James (these he surnamed Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); and Andrew, and Philip and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alpheus, and Thaddeus, and Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him’ (Mark 3:14-19).

The choice of the twelve Apostles is an important event in the Galilean ministry of Jesus. It shows, first of all, His intention to broaden the field of His work. He chooses them so that they also may preach the kingdom of heaven, and preach it in power, for He gives them the power to work miracles. They will bring His message and power to those to whom He Himself will not personally appear.

THE ROLE OF THE APOSTLES

Secondly, by choosing only twelve out of His followers, and by giving only to those twelve the power to preach the kingdom, Jesus Himself establishes a distinction of function and authority among His disciples. Some will be only His disciples; by their belief in Him and by their repentance they will enter the kingdom with Him and enjoy its blessings. But others – the twelve Apostles – will not only enter the kingdom with Him to enjoy its blessings, they will also share in His own power to establish the kingdom, to rule it, to preach its doctrines and to disperse its blessings.

Lastly, it is interesting to note that Jesus chose twelve Apostles. No doubt He chose twelve in remembrance of the fact that God’s blessings were promised to the twelve tribes of Israel. In this way He relates the founding of the kingdom of heaven to the original promises made by God to Israel.

THE BEAUTIFUL SERMON ON THE MOUNT

Shortly after the choice of the twelve Apostles Jesus ascended a mountain again and delivered to His disciples, and perhaps to some of the crowd that followed Him the beautiful Sermon on the Mount. The high moral and spiritual tone of this sermon has retained the admiration of all men down to the present time. It is well to remember though, that the sermon does not contain the whole message of Jesus. In it He does not, for example, speak of the nature of His Church nor of the doctrine of Redemption. These and other doctrines He will speak of later. In the Sermon on the Mount He is content to describe to His disciples the moral climate of the Kingdom of Heaven, its identity with and its perfecting the Old Law delivered to the world through Moses and the Prophets.

Jesus begins His sermon with the Beatitudes:

‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the earth.
Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.
Blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’ (Matthew 5:3-10).

THE SPIRITUAL ATTRIBUTES AND BLESSINGS OF THE MEMBERS OF THE KINGDOM

In these Beatitudes Jesus describes both the spiritual attributes of the members of the kingdom of heaven and the blessings which God gives them both in this present world and in the world to come, in this present time and in eternity. The members of the kingdom, the disciples of Christ, must be ‘poor in spirit,’ ‘meek,’ that is, they must be men who turn to God alone for relief from the woes of this world. They are men who mourn their sufferings, but who hope for consolation in union with the sufferings of the Messias. They are men who hunger and thirst for justice, that is, holiness. They are men who extend mercy to all, who live in union with God in purity of heart, who seek to bring peace to the troubled world of men, who suffer persecution for the sake of Christ, the Son of Man.

The men who possess these spiritual qualities will be members of the kingdom of heaven: ‘theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’ They will inherit the Messianic blessings. To them will be given purity of heart, real holiness. In eternity they shall be called the children of God and they will see God face to face.

FALLEN MAN’S NATURE LEFT TO ITS OWN DEVICES TENDS TO SEEK SECURITY RATHER THAN HOLINESS

In the Beatitudes Jesus simply but strongly shows the contrast between the conception of life of fallen man and the new idea of life which He has come to realise in the kingdom of heaven.

Fallen man, betrayed by his own weaknesses and misled by the devil, tends to find security and happiness by relying on force and power. He puts his faith in wealth and domination, rather than in God. He seeks security rather than holiness. He chafes under poverty, distress or suffering. He will not forgive injuries or extend mercy to the erring. Insecure in such happiness as he may find, he is ever at odds with his neighbours. Afraid of pain and loss, he will compromise with truth and principle for the sake of comfort.

IN THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN MAN’S ESTIMATE OF VALUES IS CHANGED

But in the kingdom of heaven which Jesus is to establish, man, with God’s help, will change his estimate of values. He will no longer be so passionately, so desperately concerned with the pleasures, the wealth, the power of this world. He will raise his eyes on high and seek the holiness, the justice of God. To gain this great blessing he will rely not on his own strength but on the power and the love of God. Trusting in God he will hope for his own ultimate redemption. Buoyed up by this consoling hope he will accept his own sufferings, the penalty of sin, and will extend mercy and peace to his fellow sufferers in the general torment of mankind. Firm in this hope he will suffer persecution, even unto death of his mortal body, for the sake of attaining union with God in justice and holiness.

UNION WITH GOD IN JUSTICE AND HOLINESS

After the solemn announcement of the Beatitudes Jesus addresses His disciples more directly and tells them that they are the recipients of these blessings, and through them these same blessings will be given to the world.

‘You are the salt of the earth,’ He tells them. ‘You are the light of the world … so let your light shine before men in order that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven’ (Matthew 5:13, 14, 16).

‘I HAVE NOT COME TO DESTROY, BUT TO FULFIL’

Following this admonition to the disciples Jesus goes on to explain the relation between the Law of His kingdom and the Old Law of Moses and the Prophets.

‘Do not think,’ He says, ‘that I have come to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For amen I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not one jot or one tittle shall be lost from the Law till all things have been accomplished’ (Matthew 5:17-18).

Since Jesus Himself in the rest of the sermon will make some changes in the Old Law, and since His Apostles will later abrogate many of the detailed and minute prescriptions of the Mosaic Law, this statement of Jesus is not easy to understand. Fortunately He Himself provides the clues to His real meaning.

A HIGHER PLANE OF MORALITY

In the first place, we notice that the changes which Jesus Himself institutes are not so much an abrogation of the Mosaic Law as they are an extension of it, or rather an elevation of it to a higher plane of morality. Thus Jesus tells His disciples that not only is murder wrong but even anger against or contempt for one’s fellow man.

CHARITY IS THE FOUNDATION

It is quite clear also that the foundation of the changes made by Jesus is love or charity.

‘You have heard,’ He says, ‘that it was said, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and shalt hate thy enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who persecute you and calumniate you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven, who makes his sun to rise on the good and the evil, and sends rain on the just and the unjust’ (Matthew 5:43, 45).

Men are to love one another as God loves them, loving both friends and enemies, both good and evil, the just and the unjust. In this way, men, as Jesus says to His disciples, ‘are to be perfect, even as (their) heavenly Father is perfect’ (Matthew 5:48).

WHAT IS THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THE LAW OF MOSES AND THE LAW OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN?

The bond of continuity or identity between the Mosaic Law and the new Law of the kingdom of heaven is love, the love of God for men and the love of men for God and for their fellowmen in God. Jesus will say later that the two great commandments of the Old Law are the commands to love God and to love one’s neighbour, and He will explain that one’s neighbour is every fellow human being. Even here in the Sermon on the Mount He sums up the Old Law in the Golden Rule:

‘Therefore all things whatever you would that men should do to you, even so do you also to them; for this is the Law and the Prophets’ (Matthew 7:12).

And this Golden Rule is a law of love, for it commands men to love one another with the wholehearted love they give themselves.

When Jesus says, then, that He has not come to destroy the Mosaic Law but to fulfil it, He means that He will not revoke the essential meaning of that Law, the law of love. But He will fulfil it by extending the scope or the object of love and by deepening the quality of love. In His kingdom men must love God and all other men, and in this way Jesus makes all men the object of Christian love.

Moreover Jesus deepens the quality of love by insisting that it is concerned not only with external actions but also with the inner man, with the heart and the mind of man. So he castigates not only the actual adulterer, but even those who look with lust at another human being (Matthew 5:27-28).

IN THE KINGDOM THERE IS NO HUMAN PRAISE FOR PIETY – IT GOES WITHOUT SAY

Jesus also emphasises the purity of the love which He demands in His kingdom by contrasting the piety demanded of His disciples with the piety of the Pharisees. The Scribes and the Pharisees perform works of piety ostentatiously so that they may be well regarded by men. When they give alms to the poor, they call it to everyone’s attention. When they fast, they disfigure their faces and look gloomy so that all may know they are fasting. On the contrary the disciples of Jesus are not to parade their virtues before the crowd, nor to seek the praise of men for their piety. They are to do good for the sake of God alone, and God will give them their true reward. They are to pray often, for prayer is powerful. God will answer their prayers. They are not to judge others; judgement is reserved to God. Their love of God must be a real, an effective love; it must be a love which produces works of virtue. ‘Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of my Father in heaven shall enter the kingdom of heaven’ (Matthew 7:21).

A TRUE INTERIOR LOVE

The primary message of the Sermon on the Mount is the message of love. Jesus accepts what His Father had revealed to mankind through Moses and the Prophets, the law of love. Men are to love not only their friends but also their enemies, not only their fellow countrymen but also all men.

The true child of God loves all men. And this love must be a true interior love, proceeding from the innermost heart of man, a love as strong as his love for himself. Moreover it must be a love patterned after God’s love for men, complete, sovereign and impartial. As such it will go far beyond the demands of the old Mosaic Law. It will rule not only the external actions of a man but also his innermost thoughts and desires. It will be a total, a dedicated love. In this present world it will be a disinterested love, seeking no present reward for men.

JESUS CHRIST’S MESSAGE IS STARTLING

When Jesus had finished preaching this message of love, this foundation of His kingdom, as St Matthew tells us, ‘the crowds were astonished at his teaching; for he was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their Scribes and Pharisees’ (Matthew 7:28).

It was clear to the crowd that had followed Jesus that there was something new and strange about the preaching of Jesus. Not only was His message new and startling but He had deliberately emphasised the difference between His preaching and the teaching of the Scribes and Pharisees. The latter spoke as theologians, appealing to the authority of other theologians or to the authority of their ancient scriptures. But Jesus dared to speak in His own name and, in His own name, to make changes in the Pharisaic interpretations of the law.

Though the crowds did not fully realise it, Jesus was speaking to them as the Christ, the Messias, instituting the Kingdom of God. He spoke as the Lawgiver, establishing the new law of grace which would be the foundation of the Kingdom of God.”
– Martin J. Healy S.T.D., 1959

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,