The Sermon on the Mount (Chapters 5-7 of Matthew’s Gospel) is Jesus’ comprehensive teachings on life, much of it an alternative to the teachings of the religious elite of His day. The overarching theme of Jesus’ message is living in relationship with God and one another; how we treat one another, and the respect we have for one another. The lessons to be learned from the Sermon on the Mount are as relevant today, as they were when Jesus first spoke them.
In this season of intentional reflection on our spiritual journey, Jesus’ words from the Sermon on the Mount remind us once again that it’s not enough to love God, but we are called to love those God loves. Richard Rohr writes in his book, Eager To Love:
“For Francis and Clare, Jesus became someone to actually imitate and not just to worship. Up to this point, most of Christian spirituality was based in desert asceticism, monastic discipline, theories of prayer, or academic theology, which itself was often based in “correct belief’ or liturgy, but not in a kind of practical Christianity that could be lived in the streets of the world. Many rightly say Francis emphasized an imitation and love of the humanity of Jesus, and not just the worshiping of his divinity.” (p.81)
If we are to “journey with Jesus” we are called to a higher calling: Imitation! It’s one thing to say the right liturgy, proclaim with conviction the creeds, and adhere to “right” doctrine; it’s another to imitate the love of Jesus. Jesus in the Gospel of John proclaims, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (13:34-35) Embracing the way of Jesus, the Sermon on the Mount is a reminder that the fruit of our faith is known through our actions.
Today Jesus reminds us that He came to “fulfill the law”. The law is summed up in two commandments: Love God, and love those whom God loves. Let us be imitators of Jesus. I look forward to making the journey with you this Lent as we journey with Jesus to the cross, and beyond, to resurrection joy!