All Christians are familiar with that great Bible passage known as the Sermon on the Mount, but are they familiar with what Jesus was getting at in his famous sermon? Let me tell you. His aim that day was to show how his teaching went beyond the teaching of Moses.
To make his comparisons clear, six times he started off with the words, “You have heard that it was said.” Each time he summarized a particular teaching of Moses, following that with what he teaches on that point. Scholars refer to these comparisons as the six antitheses.
The examples we have in today’s Gospel are, first, “You have heard that you shall not kill, but I say, ‘You shall not be angry.” Next, he says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ but I say whoever looks with lust has already committed adultery in his heart.”
In a short Sunday homily such as this we have not the time for a point by point analysis of what he said in those six areas, but we might put into practice the main thrust of his sermon, which is that to be truly Christian we must follow a code that is far above moral code proposed by Moses.
That higher code is made clear for us when we take the eight Beatitudes that are the opening words of the Sermon on the Mount, then compare them with the Ten Commandments that were the opening words of the sermon on Mount Sinai.
We often hear Christians justifying their way of life by saying they keep the Ten Commandments. But that is not enough! We must give ear to Jesus who went beyond those commandments. It is not enough for us to avoid adultery, murder and grand theft. No, to be true Christians we must be poor in spirit, we must share the sorrows of others, we must meekly seek the lowest place, we must hunger for justice to be shown to all peoples, we must show mercy to those who do not deserve it.