In today’s Gospel, Matthew related the opening lines of the Sermon on the Mount that inaugurated the New Law. The scene was carefully constructed to echo God’s imparting of the Old Law to Moses on Mount Sinai.
As it was with Moses and the tribal leaders back then, Jesus brought the Apostles up on the mountain with him, while the people staid below. To demonstrate that he was the law-giver, Jesus had the people stand, while he alone sat.
Our English translation says, “He began to teach them, saying . . . . “ That is slightly different from what Matthew wrote, which was, “And opening his mouth he began to each them.” By putting it that way, Matthew captured the people’s feeling of suspense, as though they were saying, “Look, the Son of God is opening his mouth. What will; come out?”
Then, where the Old Law delivered on Mt. Sinai began with the negative warnings we call the Ten Commandments, the one-liners that open the New Law are the positive pleas for goodness that we call the Beatitudes.