Monday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time
“When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain ….”
Today the Church begins to proclaim Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, found in chapters five through seven of St. Matthew’s Gospel account. This proclamation at weekday Mass stretches from this day through Thursday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time: in other words, about two and a half weeks.
The majority of today’s Gospel passage consists of Jesus’ Beatitudes as recorded in Matthew. St. Luke records a somewhat different version of the Beatitudes, which Jesus preached at another point in His three years of public ministry. Entire books have been written about what Jesus teaches in these ten verses. But reflect here upon the two verses that St. Matthew writes as a preface to the Beatitudes.
“When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him. He began to teach them ….” It might at first seem odd that Jesus goes up a mountain when He sees the crowds. His ascent might seem to distance Himself from the crowds. However, the mountains of the Holy Land are not like the Rockies, or even the Alps. In ascending the mountain, Jesus puts distance between Himself and the crowds in order to project His voice to the whole of the crowd.
At the same time, Jesus’ ascent of the mount presents a spiritual truth. While Jesus does consider Himself to be a friend of His disciples [see John 15:15], He is at the same time their Master. As their Master, Jesus teaches His disciples with the authority of God Himself. Jesus Himself, and His teaching, transcend anyone else and any other teaching found in this world. In fact, only the teaching of Jesus can show us the Way that leads to the Father in Heaven.