In our Gospel readings from today until the end of June, we will be following Christianity’s showcase, the wonderful “Sermon On the Mount.” It is three chapters of Matthew’s Gospel, and its key verse will come on Wednesday when we hear Jesus say, “I came not to destroy the Law and the Prophets, but to fulfill them.”
The Pharisees, who had amassed a library of sticky little rules which they falsely attributed to Moses, were saying that Jesus could not be the Messiah, since he didn’t wash his hands fifty times a day, and he didn’t step aside to avoid the shadow of a non-Jewish person falling on him. In this great sermon, Jesus will take up one precept at a time, showing that he did not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it.
In today’s Gospel, Matthew presented Jesus as God’s Son, promulgating a marvelous update of that Law which the Father gave the world.
Here too, the Son speaks from a mountaintop as the Father had done from Mount Sinai. Then, as when the Father was issuing the Ten Commandments, he called the leaders up to him while the people waited below; here, Jesus called only the Apostles up with him.
Demonstrating Our Lord’s majesty, Matthew tells us that he alone sat down., and he
that Jesus, “opening his mouth” began speaking. Our English translations leave out that bit about opening his mouth; but perhaps Matthew wanted to portray the people’s excited feeling of anticipation, as though they were thinking, “Oh, look, he is opening his mouth!”