BRING before you the scene of our Lord seated on the mount. In what a contrast it stands to the giving of the Law. Then the Glory of the Lord abode upon the mountain, and the cloud covered it. Then barriers were placed about Mt. Sinai lest the people should enter. Then our Lord spoke out of the midst of the fire and the cloud. There were signs of awful warning and grandeur. But here the barriers are taken away. The cloud is removed, and the fire has ceased till all can draw nigh and hear God speaking to them. "And Jesus opened His mouth and taught them," and His words have gone like morning over the earth. Let us rejoice with all the saints in Paradise, the Prophets, and the holy men of old, who in faith looked forward to Christ's coming. Let us try to enter into their feelings and hope and faith. In times of tribulation, in defeat and captivity, in seasons of depression, when the light of Israel was almost extinguished, they kept the Faith. He would surely come according to His gracious promises. With them let us rejoice. He has come, and we, with like faith, know He will come again. And so we listen, and also wait and watch. Let us gather up His words, and pray the Holy Ghost to write them in our hearts.
O Lord, the True Light, that lighteneth every man that cometh into the world, and by the indwelling of Thy Holy Spirit in every Christian, enlighten our hearts and minds, so that we may know and love Thee, the Truth itself, and be transformed by it.
OUR LORD'S DISCOURSES
Our Lord's Sermons may be divided into those which relate to the classes:
I. The Trinity and Himself.
II. The Sacraments of the Church.
III. The Church.
IV. On the Spiritual Life.
He revealed first the Glory of the Divine Nature as manifested in a Trinity of Being--Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Each being possessed of self-consciousness were not three individuals, but they were three separate Persons. Each shared in the Godhead. The Father God, the Son God, and the Holy Ghost God.
The Father uncreate, the Son one with the Father, and the Holy Ghost their Equal. Christ revealed this three-fold Being of God in the Baptismal formula of "the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost." Thus we learn of the Blessedness and Joy of God's own Life. He is not a solitary Being leading a solitary life. He, Who is Love itself, has within Himself the ever-being-begotten Son, and the Personal tie of the Holy Ghost which binds the Sacred Three in unity. God is thus the most lovely and blessed and beautiful of Beings. And we love Him for His own dear Sake.
Again: Jesus Christ made Himself the subject of frequent discourses. He preached on Himself as the Life. (St. John v. 17-47.) As the Father had life in Himself, so He had given to the Son to have Life in Himself. As the Father raised up the dead and quickened them, so the Son quickeneth whom He will. "I," He said, "am the Resurrection and the Life." As the Second Adam, His bodily union with His Deity could, by other than the habitual method, propagate a new creation.
He, the last Adam, was made a quickening and life-giving Spirit. He transmits to our bodies and souls a life derived from His Incarnate Nature. Our bodies are to be made like unto His glorious Body, and our souls made partakers of the gift of Eternal Life.
O wondrous, blessed, and transforming gift and possible end of being!
Again: Jesus preached a discourse on Himself as the "Light of the World" (St. John vii. 12, 52), beginning, "I am the Light of the World. He that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of Life."
Christ was the Word, or uncreated Wisdom. As one with the Father, He did nothing by Himself. In all the works external to the Blessed Trinity, the whole three Persons cooperate. The Blessed Life that comes from God through Christ, entering into us, makes us free. We are made free from the ignorance and prepossessions of our weakened and fallen nature. We are possessed with the light of the indwelling Christ. Our Vision is enlarged to the knowledge of a Heavenly State. We are enlightened with the Divine Wisdom. We know with certainty the Gospel's glorious truths. It is a light that brightens within us as we walk by it.
Christ preached on Himself as the "Living Waters." (St. John vii.) "If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of His belly shall flow rivers of living water." This He spake of the Holy Ghost, which they that believed on Him should receive. He was elevated on the Holy Cross, where His Side was opened, and the Blood and Water flowed forth. A stream thus issued from Him, which, through the Sacraments, was to flow through the whole world. His death He declared to be the source of the new life. As Eve was taken out of the side of Adam, the Church was to be taken out of His Side. "If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto Me."
Another series of discourses related to the Sacraments as means of union with Himself. He is the "Living Water," of which all believers are to partake. He is the true "Bread from Heaven," of which to eat is Life Eternal. He is "the Vine," into which, to be living branches, we are to be engrafted.
The first great means of union with Himself is Holy Baptism. He taught this to Nicodemus. (St. John iii.) We must be "born again." We must be born from above, i.e. by the Holy Spirit. We must be washed from our sins, must have the seminal principle of a new nature given unto us. We must have the justifying grace bestowed, which can make us become what we ought to be in God's sight. We must be born out of the darkness of our natural state into the Kingdom of Light. Thus by Baptism we are transplanted into a new spiritual state. We become new men. By nature we are God's children, but by Baptism the children of Jesus Christ our Lord. Let us thank God for this great and abiding gift.
Again: Our Lord gave an instruction on the Holy Eucharist. (St. John v, vi.) He revealed here the means of our full incorporation into His Life-giving nature. "He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood hath Eternal Life." Marvellous and wonderful gift! The elixir of the Heavenly Life, the Resurrection Food, the Divine Legacy of His dying Love, the inpouring of Christ's Nature, our identification with His Passion and its merits. It was this heavenly food that has sustained the Martyrs and Confessors, the Religious and the Saints. May we love it with an increasing devotion. Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is our Hope and Strength, our Peace and Joy, our Love and Delight, our Defence and Safety, our Blessed-making Spouse!
The next series of our Lord's discourses relates to the Church. Uniting His followers to Himself, Christ unites them to one another. They become a new generation, the family of Jesus Christ. So He forms His spiritual Body, the Church. It has an outward and visible form and an inward power and life. It is a city, a net, a flock, a Kingdom in its organized form. It is also a power and life. The Kingdom of God is within you. As a visible Kingdom, it has officers who represent Himself, Who, as the Prophet, Priest, and King, is its Head, and Who promised to remain with His Church till the end of the world. It has a seedlike power, and will develop its life in souls according as it is corresponded with.
Hidden beneath His parables, He prophesied the manner of its growth. At first, as in the early ages, it would be attacked by heretics, the enemy would "sow tares." Though small and hidden in its beginnings, it would grow. Small as a grain of mustard seed and planted in the earth, it would grow throughout Europe and finally be preached throughout the world. It would be like leaven, hidden in the three measures of meal. It would change the character of the old Roman civilization, conquer the barbarian invasions, and leaven modern thought and life. It would be in the Middle Ages like a treasure, a treasure hidden in the field, which, obscured by error and worldliness, must be sought for. In exploring and commercial pre-Reformation times, it would be like a merchant seeking goodly pearls. Finally it would be "like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind; which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away."
Christ and His Church were thus great topics in His teaching. The Church would not conquer the world, but the Gospel would be preached to all nations. There would be a falling away in the latter days. But Christ would conquer. Out of the world there would be gathered the Church which should be Holy and undefiled, filled with joy and bliss, and as the Bride of Christ, last forever. For this end Christ died. He loved the Church and gave Himself for it. O may we love it as He loved and loves it. May we love and work for it. Give ourselves to it, and if need be, die for its sake.
Christ's Moral Discourses are to be found in the Sermon on the Mount, in His parables, and in His denunciations of the Scribes and Pharisees. He warns them of the world's rejection of Himself. He pronounces the woes that will overtake the ungodly, the destruction of Jerusalem, and the last Judgment. Especially are they to be found in the parables of the Rich Man and Lazarus, the Unjust Steward, the Rich Fool, the Wedding Garment, and the Ten Virgins. The Sermon on the Mount begins with the Beatitudes, which are like an overture to the whole discourse. In it, as having the Holy City, with the Temple and its Sacrifices before His Mind, Christ begins by saying, "Ye are a city set on a hill." Referring to the salt used in the Sacrifices, "Ye are the salt of the earth." Like unto the Holy City, "Ye are the light of the world." You have a missionary work to do. Let your light shine. Lay the foundation of your spiritual life in undoing any wrong done to another. Be reconciled to God. Reconcile yourself to him you have injured.
As in the Temple there was an Altar, so in the Christian Dispensation there is to be one. "if thou bring thy gift to the Altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee, first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift."
Next the heart must be pure, even if it costs fearful discipline, like the cutting off of the hand, or the plucking out of the eye. Your conversation must not be interspersed with violent expressions, or oaths, but be true, simple, and straightforward. "Let your Yea be Yea, and your Nay, Nay." You are not to be vindictive or stand upon your technical rights, but act courteously, even to those who wrong you. Go farther than courtesy. You must love your enemies, do good to them that hate you, etc.
In practical matters, you must discipline the body, keep the soul, and rule the spirit. The body must be brought under discipline by fasting. Our natural covetousness must be mortified by almsgiving, the spirit must be trained in obedience to God by prayer. Let your good deeds be hidden. Be cheerful in the midst of disciplinary trial. Be not avaricious, lay up your treasure in Heaven. Trust God. Seek first the Kingdom of God, and His Glory, and all these things shall be added unto you. Be single-minded. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Judge not others, but judge thyself. Ask, and it shall be given you. Knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Seek, and ye shall find. Beware of self-made prophets. Let not your religion be one of word and profession only. Seek perfection. Be earnest, be real. Build on the Rock that is Christ. He is our sure foundation. His promises will never fail. You may tremble at times on the Rock, but the Rock will stand steadfast and immovable. The storm without and the doubt within may come, but He will not fail you. Our Lord's teaching is full of the most solemn warnings which we will do well to heed. May our Lord's words be written, dear Sisters, by the Holy Spirit in your hearts. Love them, cling to them, make them the rule of your life. Let your governing principle be Jesus only! Jesus always! All for Jesus!
Have I kept the high standard in mind given by the life of Christ? Have I applied Christ's precepts to my own life? Have I conquered any one defect in my temper, in my conversation? Have I ruled my interior life conformably to Christ's words? What defects have I noted in myself which might be corrected? Have Christ's words been to me better than riches and great spoil? Have I found a joy in keeping them? Have I sat at His Feet like Mary? Have I, like the Blessed Mother, kept all these sayings and pondered them in my heart?