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January 29, 1993     The Message
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z+&apos; 29, 1993 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 9 -...-..__ : ?:++ By FATHER DONALD DILGER 8a GOspel commentary by Father Donald Dil- er, January 31, 1993: Fourth Sunday in Ordi- ury Time, Cycle A: Matthew 5:1-12. Matthean Jesus has called his disciples him. They are represented by the four in last Sunday's gospel reading. These Simon Peter and his brother Andrew, the boys called James and John. It was out in last week's commentary how the iples reflects the action of the Elijah who did the same when he was to be.taken up. Perhaps a closer model for is taken from the Book of Exodus. Just Moses goes up the mountain to receive the law which God thundered from the he appointed judges to assist him in Lion of the people of God. Then ready to go up the mountain. same pattern takes place in Matthew. appointed his disciples. He goes up the From the mountain, like Yahweh of the new covenant law, the fulfill- 'the old. This law comes not in thunder :and fear. Nor are the people of God mp their distance. God is now much disciples gather around him, around to hear the new covenant law directly from of the Lord. The disciples do not have said by the ancient people of not let God speak to us or we shall die." eople now sit at his feet to listen. now is a collection of the teach- sus as amplified and extended by the of Matthew's time. Never before, as far as such a collection been made. Luke I I II I I III IIII II The beatitudes: A program for sanctity also has such a collection, though briefer. Luke however gives his "sermon on the mount" a dif- ferent setting. Jesus isn't on the mountain to give the law as he is in Matthew. Instead he is down among the people, as Luke puts it: "He came down with them (the disciples he had just cho- sen), and stood on a level place with a crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people." Here too we see the reenactment of Sinai and the giving of the covenant law, but Jesus is more in the role of Moses bringing the law down from the mountain to the people. In Matthew he is rather in the role of Yahweh but the people are gathered with him on the mountain itself rather than down on the plain as they are in Exodus and in Luke. One might also say that instead of the Lucan Jesus being in the role of Moses, Luke may " intend this scene as an illustration of his words earlier in the gospel: "God has visited and re- deemed his people." The covenant law of Exodus opens with the commandments and a threat of punishment. Not so the new covenant law. This one opens with blessings, the beatitudes. Luke however seems to be more influenced by the commandments with their threats of punishment. Although he begins with blessings or beatitudes, he immediately adds threats. These threats we call "woes." Matthew saves his threat of punishment until later. First the good news only. Contrary to popular expres- sions about "the eight beatitudes," Matthew actu- ally has nine, while Luke has only four. In con- trast to Luke's very direct'approach, "Blessed are you," Matthew blesses in the third person, "Blessed are they, etc.," until he gets to the ninth beatitude. Now a brief look at Matthew's beatitudes. Matthew's Jesus pronounces as blessed the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the mer- ciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, those persecuted as Christians, those slandered or lied about because they are Christian. Rewards in- stead of threats are attached to each beatitude: a part in the kingdom of heaven for the poor in spirit, comfort for mourners, land for the meek, fulfillment for those who seek holiness, mercy for the merciful, the vision of God for the pure of heart, adoption as God's children for peacemak- ers, a place in tile kingdom for the persecuted, The beatitudes are an outline for what fol- lows, the sermon on the mount. Whatever is in- cluded in that sermon is an elaboration of the beatitudes. It is difficult for us to appreciate the paradoxes of the beatitudes, their contradiction of self-seeking, of aggressive acquisition of property and power. Christians who are poor in spirit share their wealth. They take time to console the distressed. They reject an endless acquisition of things. They forgive those who offend them. Their practice of religion is not only external but from internal conviction. They work for reconcil- iation. They consider themselves fortunate to share the lot of the saints, to be persecuted be- cause they practice the beatitudes. This is the program Matthew presents to us. Though nat many of us may achieve it to perfection, the fact that some do validates the beatitudes as a pro- gram for sanctity. Other readings .for the Fourth Ordhaury Sunday: Zephaniah 2:3; 3:12.13; 1 C0r1:28.31. INSURANCE SERVICE ,,, Auto! Home! Fire.& Life! rout Personal Servme Agent L. Will Ins. Agency Inc. Franklin Street 425-3187 II III Hi-Tech Sheet Metal Inc. Residential, Industrial & Commercial Heating & Cooling Installation Sales & Service 422-9242 Operated by Michael and Patricia Koch 15 S. Third Avenue. Evansville I I 301 MAIN ST, - VINCENNES. IN 475911 OF POSSIBILmES HEIGffI00 ACADEMY Catholic- bOarding and day committed to education 870, where young +ion, grades 9-12, learn and .. a Welcoming, SLIDDOrt- /el multidtural envirm College - " preparatory :Ukm with a 7:1 studenl/ i tio. 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