Friday, June 08, 2007

Jesus of Nazareth, Chapter 4, Part I

I've been looking forward to this chapter on "The Sermon on the Mount" since I first opened the book and took a peek at the Table of Contents. The Holy Father doesn't disappoint. This is a very long chapter, with several major sub-segments:

Introductory Remarks
The Beatitudes (nearly 30 pages!)
The Torah of the Messiah

I'll break my posts on this chapter into at least those three parts, but might split it up further as well.

Introductory Remarks

Have you ever wondered what Jesus told his disciples on the journey to Emmaus? The Pope points to Matthew's Gospel:
Matthew claims the Old Testament for Jesus, even when it comes to apparent minutiae. What Luke states as a fundamental principle, without going into detail, in his account of the journey to Emmaus (cf. Lk 24:25) - namely, that all the Scriptures refer to Jesus - Matthew, for his part, tries to demonstrate with respect to all the details of Jesus' path.
The Pope details the setting of the Sermon on the Mount and what it symbolizes...
Matthew uses the word disciple here not in order to restrict the intended audience of the Sermon on the Mount, but to enlarge it. Everyone who hears and accepts the word can become a "disciple."

Jesus sits on the cathedra of Moses. But he does so not after the manner of teachers who are trained for the job in a school; he sits there as the greater Moses, who broadens the Covenant to include all nations.
Some contrasts between this scene and Moses' interaction with God on Mount Sinai...
God's power is now revealed in his mildness, his greatness in his simplicity and closeness. And yet his power and greatness are no less profound. What formerly found expression in storm, fire, and earthquake now takes on the form of the Cross, of the suffering God, who calls us to step into this mysterious fire, the fire of crucified love: "Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you" (Mt 5:11).
The scandal of the Cross is harder for many to bear than the thunder of Sinai had been for the Israelites. In fact, the Israelites were quite right when they said they would die if God should speak with them (Ex 20:19). Without a "dying," without the demise of what is simply our own, there is no communion with God and no redemption.

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