Matthew 5:1 On the mountain: The Sermon on the Mount, which begins here and continues through Chapter 7, is the proclamation of salvation, beginning with the Beatitudes (“states of utmost blessing or happiness”), which are at the center of the good news. The Word of God was announced on Mt. Sinai when God gave the Law to Moses; in the Sermon on the Mount, Christ proclaimed the New Law, which fulfills the Mosaic Law. The Beatitudes fulfilled God’s promises to Abraham and his Chosen People; it directed them to the “promised land” of the Kingdom of Heaven wherein the saved will experience complete happiness, grace, beauty, and peace. The Beatitudes are at heart a portrait of the countenance of Jesus Christ. They also express each person’s vocation in the actions and dispositions characteristic of one who lives a Christian life. (CCC 581, 764, 1716-1729, 2763-2764)
Ch 5:3 The kingdom belongs to the poor in spirit, who receive the Word of God with humility-the poor and lowly-with whom Christ identifies. St. Gregory of Nyssa (d. 394) equated poverty in spirit with humility. This phrase was applied to those Israelites, who, living righteously, sought the Kingdom of God amid their many trials and tribulations. Though the Beatitudes point to eternal happiness, those who live them will find happiness amid suffering on earth as well because they know they are on the path to eternity and, comforted by that knowledge, can offer up their suffering to God. (CCC 544, 1716, 2546)
Ch 5:4 Those who mourn include those who suffer out of love for others afflicted by the reality of sin and its consequent alienation from God. (CCC 1716)
Ch 5:5 The meek are those who seek to imitate Christ (cf. Mt 11:29; 21:5) by showing kindness and gentleness toward their neighbors. (CCC 716, 1716)
Ch 5:6 Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are those who have a sense of urgency both to live the Gospel and to spread it to others. (CCC 1716)
Ch 5:7 The merciful are compassionate with respect to the suffering, defects, and needs of others. They assist the suffering and are always ready to overlook and forgive faults and offenses. (CCC 1716, 2447)
Ch 5:8 The pure in heart have purity of intention to align their wills and minds with God’s. They give special emphasis to chastity as a liberating virtue that leads to contemplative prayer and charity.
They shall see God: this is a reference to Heaven, where the saved behold God face-to-face in the Beatific Vision. (CCC 1720, 1722, 1967, 2518, 2639)
Ch 5:9 Peacemakers not only seek their own reconciliation with God and neighbor but also seek to help others reconcile and instill peace in all relationships. (CCC 2305, 2330)
Ch 5:10 The persecuted are true disciples who persevere steadily in the faith and suffer for their faithfulness to Christ. (CCC 886, 1716, 1967)
Ch 5:11-12 Christ is the example of perfection, and the invitation to follow him involves not only prayer and humility but also a willingness to accept self-sacrifice, hardship, and persecution because of it. (CCC 520)
Ch 5:13-16 Salt of the earth...light of the world: These elements describe the divine mission. Salt gives savor to food and preserves it from corruption. The role of a Christian in the world is to bring out the best in others by leading them to Christ. Through their personal witness, the faithful become the light of the world, enabling others to see the way from the darkness of sin to the splendor of Heaven. The candle lit at Baptism reminds the new Christian, having been enlightened by Christ, to be the light of the world. (CCC 1243, 2044, 2821)
Ch 5:17-19 Not to abolish...but to fulfil: Christ did not abolish the Law but elevated and fulfilled it. He perfected the Law by obtaining the grace to imbue every action with his very love.
You have heard it said...but I say to you: Christ repeated these or similar words to explain the full requirement of the Law. (CCC 577, 592, 1967, 1968, 2053)
Ch 5:20 The scribes and Pharisees kept the letter of the Law but not its spirit; both are necessary for salvation. (CCC 2054)
Ch 5:21-22 While the Fifth Commandment forbids murder, Christ’s commandment forbids hatred, anger, and any form of violence. (CCC 678, 2262-2265, 2302-2303)
Ch 5:22 The Sanhedrin was the highest judicial body in Israel. The hell of fire (“Gehanna” in Aramaic) is derived from the Hebrew meaning “Valley of Hinnom,” a pit near Jerusalem where rubbish was constantly burned. It was used figuratively to describe a place of punishment where the dead would suffer for their sins. (CCC 1036)
Ch 5:23-24 Before one can be reconciled with God, he or she must be reconciled with neighbors. The Lord’s Prayer-the Our Father-can be prayed truthfully only if reconciliation with neighbor is sought. The Sacrament of Penance is the ordinary, sacramental means of reconciliation with God and neighbor. (CCC 1388-1390, 1424, 2608, 2792, 2841-2845)
Ch 5:27-28 Adultery is any sexual act of a married man or woman with a person who is not his or her spouse. Tradition teaches the Sixth Commandment encompasses all sins against sexual morality, including fornication, homosexual acts, masturbation, and other sins against purity. Adultery of the heart-the desire for illicit sexual activity-is also gravely sinful. Hosea and Jeremiah compared idolatry to adultery (cf. Jer 5:7; 13:27). (CCC 1456, 2336, 2380-2381, 2523-2533)
Ch 5:29-30 Pluck it out and throw it away: This exhortation urges the Christian to reject aggressively anything that separates us from God. Christians are to employ rigorous means to combat temptation, especially temptations against chastity. Christ’s example is a warning: Everyone should guard the senses against anything that may become an occasion of sin. (CCC 226, 1034)
Ch 5:31-32 God created marriage to be an indissoluble union between one man and one woman. By instituting the Sacrament of marriage and repealing the exception that permitted divorce under the Law of Moses, Christ elevated marriage to the state originally intended by God.
Unchastity: Some scholars argue that this refers to marital infidelity. Others argue that it refers to unlawful marriages such as between close relatives or the marriage between a Jew and a Gentile, both of which violated the Law (cf. Lv 18:7-13). In either case, a marriage between a baptized man and woman, once ratified and consummated, cannot be dissolved except by death. (CCC 2380-2382)
Ch 5:33-37 Every oath invokes God as a witness; therefore, it is a serious sin to make an oath that intentionally contradicts the truth. Christ calls his followers to love and defend the truth unconditionally. (CCC 2150-2153, 2466)
Ch 5:42 Christ associates helping the poor with directly loving him. Service to those in need will be the subject of the final judgment (cf. Mt 25:31-36). (CCC 1039, 2443)
Ch 5:43-45 To follow Christ requires loving as he loves, forgiving those who cause hurt or wrong us in any way. Christ died out of love for every individual, even while they were still sinners and enemies (cf. Rom 5:10). Christians must forgive one another as a condition of being reconciled with God; forgiveness configures a person to Christ, who loves us unconditionally and bears witness that love is stronger than sin. The true freedom expressed in the Gospel cannot be experienced while enslaved to resentment and hatred for others.
He makes the sun rise...unjust: We can depend upon the providence of God our Father for all our needs. (CCC 1825, 1933, 2608, 2828-2829, 2844)
Ch 5:46-48 Christ invites everyone to the perfection of charity. “All Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity” (Lumen Gentium 40 S 2). The means to this charity or love consist in living Christ’s commandments, including his words, counsels, and actions. (CCC 1693, 1968, 2013, 2842)
Ch 6:1-13 Christ often spoke of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving as commendable religious practices; however, he taught each of these visible acts can become hypocritical if not performed out of love of God in a spirit of interior penance and conversion. (CCC 1430, 1434, 1968-1969)
Ch 6:2 They may be praised by men: Good acts should be directed to God “who sees in secret” (Mt 6:4) and not done for the sake of impressing others. The act must be good in itself and performed with the right intention and in the proper circumstances. When performed for the wrong reason, such as seeking praise, a good act loses its merit. (CCC 1752-1755, 2447)
Ch 6:6 Every Christian is called to foster a life of personal prayer. The church is the appropriate place for the community to gather for liturgical prayer and worship, especially in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. Both personal prayer and communal worship are needed to grow in communion with God. (CCC 1693, 2608, 2655, 2691)
Ch 6:7 Heap up empty phrases: The simplest prayer is to invoke the name of Jesus. To repeat his name or any vocal prayer with a pure and humble heart is not heaping empty phrases. However, the repetition of words without attention and loving devotion is of little value. (CCC 2607-2608, 2668, 2776)
Ch 6:8 Though God the Father already knows everyone’s needs, he desires to be approached in prayer, since he wants us, his children, to turn to him as the source of all good. Prayer is our personal response to God. (CCC 443, 2736)
Ch 6:9-13 The Lord’s Prayer is the prayer of the New Law, and Matthew’s version is used in liturgical worship. It is “a summary of the whole Gospel” (Origen, De orat., 1). It expresses what we ought to desire and what we ought to avoid. The Lord’s Prayer is recited at Mass, in the Liturgy of the Hours, in the Rosary, and in many other liturgical and devotional rites. (CCC 1969, 2621, 2759-2802, 2857-2865)
Ch 6:9 Our Father who art in heaven: Christ taught his disciples to address God as “Our Father.” Later, he distinguished his unique Sonship with the Father from our own filiation by referring to God as “your Father” and “my Father.” Divine filiation, which is derived from our incorporation into the Mystical Body of Christ in Baptism, makes us adopted children of God. Spoken in the plural, the Lord’s Prayer is properly a prayer of the Church.
Hallowed be thy name: God is the source of all that is good, and we ask that his name be recognized and treated as holy. The Second Commandment teaches us to treat his name with utmost respect and reverence. (CCC 268, 443, 2783-2784, 2803-2815)
Ch 6:10 Thy kingdom come: Our desire should be for both the establishment and extension of God’s kingdom on earth. This kingdom, a kingdom of peace, joy, truth, and life, was made possible by Christ’s Incarnation, and it will be perfected at the end of time.
Thy will be done...in heaven: Christians should strive to align their wills to the will of Christ, who carried out the will of his Father perfectly. (CCC 2632, 2771, 2816-2827)
Ch 6:11 Give us this day our daily bread: In a material sense, Christ calls people to trust completely in the Father, who provides for all our needs. In a spiritual sense, we petition for the Bread of Life: Christ himself, who is presented daily in his Word and, in a unique, real, and total way, in the Holy Eucharist. (CCC 1163-1165, 2659, 2828-2837)
Ch 6:12 Forgive us our...against us: Reconciliation with God requires us to first reconcile with our neighbor. We, who are heavily indebted to God, cannot receive the full measure of God’s forgiveness and mercy unless we show forgiveness and mercy to others. Christ further developed this petition in the Sermon on the Mount (cf. Mt 5:23-24; 6:14-15). (CCC 2792, 2838-2845)
Ch 6:13 Lead us not into temptation: This means, “Do not allow us to give in to temptation,” or, “Leave us not alone in temptation.”
Deliver us from evil: Evil refers both to the lure of sin and to Satan, the deceiver and prince of evil. Protection from the evil one includes protection from all evils so the People of God may persevere in faithful expectation of seeing God face to face in the Kingdom of Heaven. (CCC 2821, 2846-2854)
Ch 6:16-18 Like his teachings on almsgiving and prayer, Christ teaches his followers to fast not to receive praise from others but with the intention to give glory to God. Outward actions should flow from interior dispositions of love for God. (CCC 575, 1430, 2608)
Ch 6:21 Treasure: Christ is the treasure that fulfills the deepest longings of the human heart.
Heart: As used here, the heart indicates our deepest longings, and the righteous heart is the path to Christ. In order for our heart to be pure we must avoid improper attachments to material goods or persons as well as addictions. Therefore, the interior struggle involves putting into practice the entire Gospel message. Everything must be oriented toward a deep union with Christ and the Kingdom of God. (CCC 368, 2533, 2551-2553, 2729, 2848)
Ch 6:24 Mammon is Aramaic for riches. To place any created thing ahead of God is idolatry; this includes the false gods of material goods, earthly pleasures, and government. When the heart is not centered on God, communion with him is impossible. A disordered desire for mammon alienates us from God and, consequently, causes injustices in the social order. (CCC 2113, 2424, 2848)
Ch 6:25-32 Anxiety over earthly goods and comforts draws people away from God. Christ teaches his followers to rely on the divine providence of God the Father in the same way a child relies on his or her parents. While we should try our best in every endeavor, we should be free of our worry and anxiety since God is a loving Father who wants always what is best for us. (CCC 270, 305, 322, 247, 2830)
Ch 6:26 All creation bears witness to the glory of God and his providence. (CCC 32, 350, 355-359, 824, 2416)
Ch 6:33-34 Our greatest desire is to spread the kingdom of God, which will result in a just society wherein the value and dignity of the human person is paramount. (CCC 1942, 2604, 2608, 2632)
Ch 6:34 We trust the Father to provide for our needs this day and in the days to come. (CCC 2659, 2835-2836)
Ch 7:1-2 “God measures as we measure, and pardons as we pardon, and shows mercy as we show mercy” (St. Gregory the Great, Moralia, 29). This is included in the Lord’s Prayer: “Forgive us our trespasses, as forgive those who trespass against us.” Love of neighbor reflects our interior disposition to love God above all things. (CCC 678, 2477-2478)
Ch 7:3-5 Failure to see our own faults leads invariably to harsh and unfair judgment of others. (CCC 1861)
Ch 7:6 Holy things are to be treated with reverence and given only to those who can discern and appreciate their great value. For this reason, the early Christians dismissed those not yet baptized from Mass immediately following the Liturgy of the Word (cf. Didache, 9, 5). This practice is reflected in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults when catechumens leave the Mass for private instruction following the Liturgy of the Word. The reception of Holy Communion is reserved for Catholics who are in a state of grace, i.e., not aware of having committed any mortal sin. (CCC 1385, 2120, 2148)
Ch 7:11 We, sons and daughters of God, can pray in faith and confidence that the Father will answer our prayers. God knows what we need before we ask. If what we ask for is not received, we can trust that God will give us something more profitable for salvation. (CCC 2609, 2736)
Ch 7:12 Called the “golden rule,” this concept is part of the natural law and is a universal ethical standard. It is a natural consequence of the Two Great Commandments to love God and to love our neighbor (cf. Mt 5:17-48) and is a step toward the new commandment, “Love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 15:12). (CCC 1789, 1968, 1970, 2510, 2821)
Ch 7:13-14 The two gates represent the basic option to follow or reject Christ-to strive for heavenly glory or risk eternal condemnation. Every moral decision either contributes to or impedes salvation and holiness. (CCC 1036, 1696, 1970, 2609)
Ch 7:15-20 False prophets: People whose hypocrisy and erroneous teaching misled and caused confusion among the people. This applies equally to Christians who give scandal to teach contrary to the Faith. (CCC 2284-2287)
Ch 7:20 Know them by their fruits: Faith and grace produce good works, which give us evidence that we are blessed by God. Words are not enough to reveal the true state of the human heart; rather, faith expressed in the deeds of charity reflects the inner good of the person. Those who profess right beliefs but do not live out the Gospel message do not exhibit a true picture of Christ. While salvation comes solely from the grace of God, good works are a necessary cooperation with the gratuitous grace of faith. (CCC 2005)
Ch 7:21 The external act of crying out to God is not sufficient to gain eternal life; conversion of heart and the disposition to do the will of God are also necessary. Works must be a manifestation of faith, and Christian prayer must reflect a sincere submission and desire to fulfill the Father’s will. When our will is identified with his, the Kingdom of Heaven becomes established on earth and in ourselves. (CCC 1821, 2611, 2826)
Ch 7:24-27 Union with Christ and fidelity to his teachings is building on the rock that gives us strength and solidity in the face of adversity. (CCC 1970)
Ch 7:28-29 One who had authority: Christ did not simply propose an alternative argument to the scribes’ interpretation of the law; rather, his teachings are the ultimate authority in both the interpretation and perfection of the Mosaic Law. (CCC 581)
Proverbs 18:22 In reference to this verse, St. John Paul II pointed out that, while the wisdom literature often speaks of women in negative terms, it also “perceived in her a hidden treasure” and expresses “appreciation of the feminine figure, a precious gift of the Lord” (General Audience, April 10, 1996).
(* The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)