Sermon on the Mount, altarpiece by Henrik Olrik
By Dr. Scott Hahn
Jesus tells us in the Gospel this week that he has come not to abolish but to “fulfill” the Law of Moses and the teachings of the prophets.
His Gospel reveals the deeper meaning and purpose of the Ten Commandments and the moral Law of the Old Testament. But his Gospel also transcends the Law. He demands a morality far greater than that accomplished by the most pious of Jews, the scribes and Pharisees.
Outward observance of the Law is not enough. It is not enough that we do not murder, commit adultery, divorce, or lie.
The law of the new covenant is a law that God writes on the heart (see Jeremiah 31:31–34). The heart is the seat of our motivations, the place from which our words and actions proceed (see Matthew 6:21; 15:18–20).
Jesus this week calls us to train our hearts, to master our passions and emotions. And Jesus demands the full obedience of our hearts (see Romans 6:17). He calls us to love God with all our hearts, and to do his will from the heart (see Matthew 22:37; Eph. 6:6)
God never asks more of us than we are capable. That is the message of this week’s First Reading. It is up to us to choose life over death, to choose the waters of eternal life over the fires of ungodliness and sin.
By his life, death, and resurrection, Jesus has shown us that it is possible to keep his commandments. In baptism, he has given us his Spirit that his Law might be fulfilled in us (Romans 8:4).
The wisdom of the Gospel surpasses all the wisdom of this age that is passing away, St. Paul tells us in the Epistle. The revelation of this wisdom fulfills God’s plan from before all ages.
Let us trust in this wisdom, and live by his Kingdom law.
As we do in this week’s Psalm, let us pray that we grow in being better able to live his Gospel, and to seek the Father with all our heart.
Dr. Scott Hahn is professor of theology at Franciscan University at Steubenville, Ohio. He was formerly a Presbyterian minister who converted to Catholicism in 1986. Lighthouse Catholic Media has many of his talks on CD or for download.
About the painting: Henrik Olrik was a Danish painter and sculptor. He was skilled as a portrait painter and also did still lifes, landscapes, historic paintings and religious work. He painted this altarpiece at St. Mathew's Church in Copenhagen about 1880.