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One of the most familiar and important passages in all of scripture is the famous Sermon on the Mount in St. Matthew’s Gospel, which begins with the Beatitudes. But that’s not what we just heard today.
Today is the first of four consecutive Sundays in which we hear Gospel readings, not from the Sermon on the Mount, but from a much shorter parallel passage in St. Luke’s Gospel: the so-called Sermon on the Plain, since Luke tells us that Jesus came down and stood on a level place.
Jesus - Teaching - Luke - Sermon - Plain
Most of Jesus’ teaching in Luke’s Sermon on the Plain mirrors Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount, but there are differences. The biggest is that instead of eight beatitudes, like the Sermon on the Mount, here there are four beatitudes and four anti-beatitudes, four woes.
“Blessed are you poor, you who are hungry or weeping” — but also “Woe to you who are rich, who are filled now, who laugh now.”
Jesus - News - News - Ways - Paths
Jesus brings bad news as well as good news. He comes to comfort the afflicted, but also to afflict the comfortable. He sets before us two ways, two paths. The way of beatitude — of blessedness, of God’s favor and supreme happiness, culminating in heaven. And the way of woe, of misery and doom, culminating in ****.
If You Aren’t a Tree Planted By the Water, What Are You?
Day - Lives - Paths - Way - Destruction
Each of us, every day of our lives, is on one of these two paths: the easy way that leads to destruction, as we read in the Sermon on the Mount, or the hard way that leads to life. There’s no third way, no in-between.
That same stark divide runs through our Old Testament texts: the first reading from the prophet Jeremiah and the responsorial psalm, Psalm 1. Both the prophet and the psalmist tell us that some people —...
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