January 29, 2011


4th Sunday - A
Matthew 5: 1-12a

Who? You, Me, Everybody

In the Gospel according to Matthew, the first of Jesus' 5 major teachings runs from chapter 5 to chapter 7. The teachings from these 3 chapters make up The Sermon on the Mount.

And from the very beginning, in 5:1, Matthew makes sure to indicate who the teaching is for: "the crowds." Then, at the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew brings the audience back, probably as a reminder, "When Jesus finished these words, the crowds were astonished at his teaching." (7:28) [1]

Moreover, before Matthew begins the Sermon in 5:1, he clearly points out the background of the people who make up "the crowds." In 4:24, he reports that "[Jesus'] fame spread to all of Syria," which was the Roman Province that Palestine belonged to. Thus, "great crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan followed him" (4:25). These were all the areas where Palestine Jews lived during the time of Jesus. [2]

In addition, Matthew, as commonly accepted, wrote the Gospel for his community that was made up of mainly Jewish Christians (based on his use of the Jewish Scripture or Old Testament, certain Jewish expressions, historical references, etc).

The Sermon on the Mount - the way of God's Kingdom - is then for all people who are willing to listen to Jesus. It is not the law of perfection for a selected few. It is for the crowds who are called from all over to enter the Kingdom of God.

This way of God is for you, for me, and for everybody.

[1] Daniel J. Harrington, S.J., The Gospel of Matthew, Sacra Pagina Series. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1991; p. 78.
[2] Ibid., p. 73.

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