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Lessons from Jesus

25 Jun

Sermon on the MountToday’s Gospel gives us three challenging lessons from Jesus taken from His famous “Sermon on the Mount”:

“Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces” (Mt. 7:6).

Living in a largely de-Christianized society that sorely needs a “new evangelization,” we might tend to brush aside this verse. After all, we must be about bringing the Gospel to the unchurched, who might be considered the “dogs” or “swine” in this analogy. This verse points to the ever-present need to balance what we call in Church-speak “inculturation,” or making the mysteries of the faith accessible to a given culture, and the “reverence” that is always due to God and holy things. If we’re too serious or other-worldly we will not be able to inculturate the Gospel, and if we’re too hip we can easily water down or trivialize the “pearls” of our faith.

“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the Law and the Prophets” (Mt. 7:12).

This is the most straightforward of the three lessons . . . and probably the most difficult. The people of Jesus’ time, thanks to the Law and Prophets, already knew this lesson, yet they needed Jesus to remind them. And today, surely we have heard the “Golden Rule” many times and have tried to drill it into our quarreling children. Yet we still don’t treat others as we would like to be treated, because we haven’t fully tapped into the love of God that has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (cf. Rom. 5:5). Let’s hear these words anew and make practical resolutions to do good to others today.

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few” (Mt. 7:13-14).

We don’t know the relative population of heaven and hell, and we do trust in the super-abundant mercy of God. Yet, this startling message reminds us that we are responsible for how we respond to God’s mercy, and how we live our lives. We might ask ourselves whether we’re heading through the narrow gate. If not, there’s still time to change course and choose the path that leads to abundant life (cf. Jn. 10:10).