Chapters 5, 6 and 7 of Matthew's gospel constitute the Sermon on the Mount. The chapters contain many of the most well known words of Jesus. These teachings direct us in the way of true discipleship, true following of Jesus.
In reflecting on these words of Jesus, I try to put myself on the mountain with Jesus or among the listeners. The words themselves are so full of meaning that we might tend to read them slowly, or they may be so familiar that we may tend to read them through quickly.
But HOW did Jesus speak the words. Certainly Jesus did not have a written script. The words developed in Jesus' heart as he looked at the face of each person in front of him, and into the heart of each person in front of him, one by one. The words were given to him from above, just as Jesus assures us that words will be given to each of us at the appropriate moment.
I imagine that Jesus spoke these words slowly, clearly and directly. I imagine that Jesus spoke these words while looking into the eyes of a child, woman or man. And isn't this what was meant when the people responded that Jesus spoke with authority? His words cut through self will and hardened egos. HIs words cut through falsehood and temptation and gave encouragement and inner strength. HIs words dispelled all doubts and all fears and left each listener with a deep peace as each knew in her/his own heart the truth and the personal love of Jesus.
Jesus spoke with great care and affection. He knew that what he was asking was difficult, the narrow way. With the words came the strength to follow through. If we can but take the first step, Jesus will take us the rest of the way. We can count on it! We need only keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. (Hebrews 12:2)
Perhaps this Lenten season, which begins with Ash Wednesday this Wednesday, February 13, we might further reflect on the Sermon on the Mount. Seat yourself in your mind before Jesus as he speaks the words with great care to you personally. Does Jesus intend certain words specifically for you at this time in your life? Which words are those? Can you take that first step of mind, heart of body and allow Jesus to follow through?
Sr. Pam Buganski
Sr. Pam joined SewHope as our first American Project Coordinator in 2012