Grace: An intimate knowledge of our Lord, who has become man for me, that I may love Him more and follow Him more closely.
Text for Prayer: Mt. 5
Reflection: Jesus taught not only by words but also through symbolic actions. The cleansing of the temple is the most famous. In the Sermon on the Mount, we see the combination of both word and symbolic action. The fact that he goes up to a mountain to give this new law immediately reminds us of Moses who received the Law upon Mt. Sinai and then delivered it to the people. Jesus, however, doesn’t receive the New Law on tablets. He is the New Law. He embodies God’s action in the world. Therefore, we have before us a new and greater Moses. Just as the law of Sinai helped form the identity of a people, so will the New Law of the Sermon on the Mount form the new People of God who profess the name of Jesus.
In order to enter into meditation upon the Sermon on the Mount, it is helpful to place ourselves in that group of people who will hear Jesus’ word. Together we will be a people who will live out this Law and embody it in the world. Notice that some people are rich while others are poor. Women and men gather. Jews are present, but also the random Gentile living in the area who has heard of this charismatic figure preaching in the wilderness. What does Jesus say?
We hear the Beatitudes. Notice, first of all, that the Beatitudes give us a perfect description of Jesus himself who was poor in Spirit (relying upon his Father for everything), meek, merciful, peace-making, and persecuted for righteousness. To understand the Beatitudes, we need only look at Christ.
We hear in verses 13 through 16 that we are not to hide our lights under a bushel basket. Our talents are not meant to be squandered. The Father has plans for us. We are to listen to the voice of Christ our King, calling us into his service. Where will this service take us? The message is meant for all people, so the scope of Christ’s call is universal.
Finally, Jesus says that he is not a transgressor of the Law, but the Law’s fulfillment. More than mere fulfillment of the Law’s commands, Jesus lives the Law’s Spirit. His whole being—every thought, word, and action—is obedient to the Father. Therefore, those who live in His Spirit will live this life of total dedication. They will be the true lovers of this world, desiring what God desires: the salvation of all people, even enemies.
Questions: This is a wealthy section of Scripture. Which section most draws your heart? Who are you in the crowd? What are your reactions to the words Jesus proclaims?