Jeremiah 6:16

Thus saith the Lord: Stand ye on the ways, and see and ask for the old paths which is the good way, and walk ye in it: and you shall find refreshment for your souls.


Jesus of Nazareth - Chapter 04

The Sermon on the Mount

Immediately after Jesus’ baptism, he begins His public ministry. The Holy Father examines this beginning in regards to three particular elements. He recognizes Matthew’s intended summary of Jesus’ preaching-entire as “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Benedict also sees the calling of the twelve as pivotal and fundamental in Jesus’ ministries as well as the clarification that Jesus, himself, is not simply a preacher and teacher, but the one whom has been prophesied, the anointed one, the Messiah and redeemer of all peoples.

Just as Moses led his people out of the hands of Pharaoh and the Egyptians, contemporary Jews believed that the Messiah would come to liberate them from the Romans as an occupying force, and return to them the land that was promised them. Instead, Jesus came to liberate His people from their ignorance and hardness of heart. Jesus has infact come as the new Moses as prophet and guide from darkness. The Pope pointedly remarks on particular actions related by the evangelists, which indicate the authority of Jesus. Matthew, writing to the Jews, details how Jesus goes up on a mountain (see Moses), and then sits down. This is the posture of an authority and teacher in the rabbinical style. However, instead of being seated in a school or synagogue to teach solely to Jews, Jesus sits above everyone on the mountain, to indicate His authority over the world. As Moses went up the mountain to pray and commune with God, and then taught his people, Jesus echoes this saving prefigurement.

This accent is in contrast to the particular choice of emphasis of Luke the evangelizer. Luke writes for the gentiles, who would not be familiar with the synagogical or rabbinical style. Luke, therefore, writes of particular pericope that imply authority for his audience. Benedict hits upon Jesus’ standing amidst His apostles. Standing indicates authority and kingship over the breadth of peoples, and all who had come to Him symbolized the peoples of the entire world, from whom Jesus demanded discipleship.

Again, the Pope harkens back to Exodus and the words and actions of the people. The Hebrews beg Moses to speak to them for they are afraid of dying were they to hear God’s own voice. As Jesus speaks, it is not only the new Moses, but it is no-less-than God, Himself, speaking. Benedict points out in amusement that the Israelites were right when they feared death at God’s voice. If we do listen to His voice, we hear Him calling us to die to this world so that we might live with Him. This is baptism in its fullest form; as the Pope says, baptism cannot be reduced to a mere ritual.

The Pope continues this exegesis with the teachings themselves of Jesus, remarking how they are reflective of, and indeed complimentary to the Law of Moses and the prophets of the Old Testament. The Beatitudes, far form being the commonly accepted “new commandments” are instead a commentary on the condition of Jesus’ disciples. It is particularly the poor, the downcast, and the weak who are explicitly invited to become part of God’s family. In addition to these Beatitudes, Jesus clarifies and renews the teachings of the Torah. He begins with “You have heard it was said…” and then continues with a calling to deeper fidelity and a deeper awareness of the call to goodness and holiness.

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