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The Sermon on the Mount in the Sunday Readings (Year A)

{ Tags: , \ Feb15 }

For the past few Sundays we have been reading Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount. Below is the outline of Matthew 5:1-7:29; I will be indicating the parts that are now being read during the Sunday Mass.

The division of the Sermon into parts is decided on the basis of changes in structure, keywords and themes. One can easily isolate 5:1-2 and 7:28-29 as narrative introduction and narrative conclusion respectively. Inside the the larger section introduced by the phrase “and he began to teach them, saying”, 5:3-12 is distinguished from what follows by the keyword “Blessed”, while 5:13-16 is distinguished from 5:17ff because of this latter’s introduction of the keyword “law” and “righteousness”. 5:17-48 is dominated by the phrase “You have heard it said … Now I tell you” and it is followed by topics on pious practices (almsgiving, fasting and prayer, Matthew 6:1-18). Next is the theme of wealth and the kingdom: 6:19-24 is on wealth and the dangers of greed for money, while 6:25-34 is the peace that accompanies a life that is dedicated to the kingdom of heaven. This is followed by topics on community living, ending with 7:12, a statement which acts like an inclusion with 5:17-20. With 7:12, the topic on the law is closed; the following four teachings I call “Concluding Provisos” and each emphasize that not all those who are listening to the Sermon will be included in the kingdom. These teachings end with a warning regarding those who listen but do not what Jesus says.

  • Narrative Introduction (5:1-2)
  • Sermon on the Mount
    • The Beatitudes (5:3-12)
    • You are the salt and light of the world (5:13-16)
  • Fulfillment of the Law: A Faith More Perfect than that of the Scribes and Pharisees
    • The Abiding Value of the Law (5:17-20)
    • You Have Heard … Now I Tell You
      • Thou Shall Not Kill (5:21-26)
      • Thou Shall Not Commit Adultery (5:27-32)
      • Thou Shall Not Use the Name of the Lord in Vain (5:33-37)
      • Talion Law (5:38-42)
      • Loving the Neighbor (5:43-48)
    • On Pious Practices
    • On Worldly Wealth and the Kingdom
      • True Wealth (6:19-21)
      • Envy and Avarice (6:22-23) “What puts a twinkle in your eye?”
      • Choice: God or Mammon? (6:24)
      • Do Not Worry
        • About Clothes (6:25-30)
        • About Food (6:31-32)
      • Seek First the Kingdom (6:33-34)
    • Life in the Community
      • Do not judge (7:1-6)
      • Persevering Prayer (7:7-11)
      • Golden Mean: The Law and the Prophets (7:12)
    • Concluding Provisos
  • Narrative Conclusion (7:28-29)

The Sundays of Ordinary Time from the 4th to the 9th feature certain passages from this section of Matthew:

Sunday Section Title
IV 5:1-12 The Beatitudes
V 5:13-16 Salt and Light
VI 5:17-37 Murder, Adultery, Swearing
VII 5:38-48 Talion Law and Love of Neighbor
VIII 6:24-34 True Wealth and the Kingdom
IX 7:21-27 Hearing and Doing Jesus’ Words

The section on pious practices (Matthew 6:1-18 passim) is read on Ash Wednesday.

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