Thursday, June 28, 2018

Memorial of Saint Irenaeus, bishop and martyr

(II Kings 24:8-17; Matthew 7:21-29)

Today’s gospel completes the great “Sermon on the Mount.”  Although most of its material originates with Jesus, Matthew gives it form.  He cuts and pastes Jesus’ teachings to provide a summary of Christian moral catechesis.  The closing parable can be taken as an outline for Matthew’s work. 

Jesus exhorts his followers to build their houses on rock not on sand.  That is, he wants us to ground our lives in the beatitudes.   The beatitudes describe our goal in life, basically “the kingdom of heaven.”  If the beatitudes comprise the foundation of moral practice, the commandments form its building blocks.  They oblige us to do the seemingly impossible like “love your enemy.”  They also forbid what seems to come most naturally -- “to look at a woman with lust.”  These commandments would be impossible to fulfill without divine help.  For this reason Jesus includes in his catechesis a lesson on how to pray.

The “Sermon on the Mount” ends with a number of proverbs.  This material is hardly redundant or peripheral.  It adds needed demonstrations of how we are to pursue God’s will and not our own. Only in doing so will we have accomplished the repentance which Jesus preaches.  Having established the expectations for Christian life, Matthew will begin his account of Jesus’ ministry.