from The Plough
Plough: Does the Sermon on the Mount apply only to those with a special vocation, or to everyone?
Cardinal Wuerl: The Sermon on the Mount is the call to every disciple. If you are going to follow Jesus, if you are going to walk in his pathway, it tells you: “Here is how you do it; this is what is involved.”
It all begins with recognizing that the kingdom of God is coming into being right now. The Beatitudes all have this dual aspect to them: “Blessed are…because…” We are asked to be compassionate, to be merciful, to seek righteousness and justice, etc., because the kingdom is coming to be. We can actually help realize that kingdom, even though it is only in its beginning stage.
What part of the Sermon on the Mount do you feel is most important today?
I think of Jesus’ teaching about salt and light. Matthew 5 is a wonderful presentation of the way of the kingdom, but it can’t just be accepted passively. We are not bystanders in realizing the kingdom; we are supposed to be active participants. Jesus says to us, “You are supposed to be salt of the earth, salt that gives flavor. You are supposed to be light; people should see through your actions that the kingdom is coming to be.”
Why is the church so involved in the works of mercy, of charity, of teaching, of social justice, and of social service? It is trying to be salt and light. So while the entire Sermon on the Mount is important, for me that is one of the most exciting parts….