Our Gospel from Chapter Six of Luke’s Gospel gives us Luke’s versions of the Beatitudes that Matthew gives us in Chapter Five of his Gospel. In both of them, Jesus announced that there would be blessings for the poor in spirit, for those who grieve, and for the meek.
I have an odd memory from when I was fourteen, and I was starting my freshman year at the minor seminary. What I remember is being frightened that when school started, one of the priests would ask me to recite the Beatitudes, and I wouldn’t be able to do it.
I needn’t have worried. In my twelve years as a seminarian I was never once asked to recite the Beatitudes. The Catholic Church never attached much importance to them. And, I think we might have made a mistake there.
The great Sermon on the Mount that takes up three chapters in Matthew’s Gospel, was purposely constructed to show how the teaching of Jesus was more important than the teaching of Moses.
In Chapter Five of Matthew, Jesus went up the mountain the way Moses had gone up Mount Sinai. While Moses gathered his tribal leaders around him up there, Jesus gathered his Apostles around him. Both Moses and Jesus had the people stay below them.
Both Moses and Jesus stared off with great one-liners. With Moses, they were the Ten Commandments. With Jesus, it was the Beatitudes.
Following that, in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus went on item by item, showing how his teaching was superior to that of Moses. Moses had said we should not kill, Jesus said we should not even be angry. Moses said we should love our friends, but hate our enemies. Jesus told us to love our enemies.
Our seminary course went on as though there had never been a New Law. Our Four Year course in Moral Theology simply took the Ten Commandments one at s time, describing the many ways we could sin against each of them. But Jesus, instead of telling us to just avoid doing evil, preferred telling us to go out of our way to do kindly things.