St. Robert Bellarmine

Catholic Church

Jesus Teaches About Law, Life, and How to Live

Jesus saw crowds of people following him. So he went up on a mountain and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he taught them.

Those who live in an attitude of poverty enjoy a special relationship with God. The power and authority of heaven belongs to them.

Those who live in sadness and sorrow enjoy a special relationship with God. God will walk alongside them in their trial.

Those who live in humble submission enjoy a special relationship with God. They will inherit the earth.

Those who inwardly hunger and thirst for all things to be right and just enjoy a special relationship with God. They will be fully satisfied.

Those who are merciful towards others enjoy a special relationship with God. They will receive God's mercy.

Those whose hearts are pure enjoy a special relationship with God. They will see God just as they are seen by God.

Those who work for peace enjoy a special relationship with God. They will be proclaimed the children of God.

Those who are persecuted for the sake of justice enjoy a special relationship with God. They will enjoy the power and authority of heaven.

When you are insulted, slandered, and persecuted because of me, you enjoy a special relationship with God. Be joyful. Be glad. You have earned a great reward in heaven, because that is exactly how they treated the ancient prophets who shared God's message with them.

You are the salt of the earth. But salt that is tasteless is throw out. It can't become salty again. You are the light of the world. When you light a lamp, you don't hide it under a bucket. You set it on a high lamp stand so it can illumine all who are in the house. In the same way, when a city is appointed by God to be an example to the world and placed high on a hill for all to see, you shouldn't try to hide it. Shine your light. Illumine the path for all mankind. All will see the good you do and praise your heavenly Father.

Don't let anyone convince you that my purpose is to undermine what is written in the Mosaic Law or the writings of the prophets. My purpose is not to destroy but to fulfill. Nothing will be taken from the Law until everything has been fulfilled. But anyone who decides that the commandments are unnecessary, and teaches people to ignore them will be considered least in kingdom of heaven. And anyone who follows the commandments and teaches other to do the same, will be considered great in the kingdom of heaven.

But I warn you, that unless you sense of truth and justice is better than that of the Mosaic lawyers and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. For example: you know that since ancient times, the Law has taught that you should not commit murder. But I teach that if you insult someone, you will be dragged into court. and if you call someone a moron, you will be guilty enough to be condemned to the fires of hell. Even if you are angry with someone, especially someone close to you, you will face God's judgment. So if you are bringing a sacrifice or an offering to the temple, and on your way to the altar you remember that someone has reason to be upset with you, leave immediately and go to your friend. Don't offer your sacrifice or make your offering until you have made things right with your friend. Once your relationship has been restored, come back to the temple and make your sacrifice or present your offering. This is even more important when someone makes an accusation against you in court. Quickly make friends with your adversary or he will denounce you in front of the judge and the judge will throw you in prison where you will remain until you have paid your fine.

You are familiar with the commandment, "You shall not commit adultery." But I teach that anyone who looks over a woman lustfully has already committed adultery in his mind and emotions. So guard yourself. Be careful what you look at, or think about, or touch. It would be better to have never looked at that woman than to lust after her and endanger your soul. Or perhaps you want something that is bad for you and you reach out at take it without considering the consequences. It would be better to have never touched it than to endanger your soul. And in the Mosaic Law it says that if a man wants to divorce his wife all he needs to do is give her a certificate of divorce. But I teach that if a man divorces his wife, unless she was unfaithful to him, has forced her into adultery. And whoever marries her also commits adultery.

For ages, people have been taught not to make false promises. It is important to keep the vows you made to the Lord. But I teach that you should not make vows at all. Don't swear upon heaven because it is God's throne. Don't swear upon the earth because it is God's footstool. Don't swear upon Jerusalem because it is the city of the great King. Don't even swear upon your own head because you can't make your hair white or black. Just say "Yes" or "No." Pretending you can predict or control the future is from the evil one.

You are familiar with the saying, "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." But I say do not resist an evil person. If someone slaps you in an insult or a challenge, do not give in to anger. Just invite him to slap you again. If someone forces you to carry his load for a mile, offer to carry it for an extra mile. If someone begs from you, give him what you can. If someone needs to borrow from you, lend freely.

You have heard people say that you should love your friends, but hate your enemies. But I say love your enemies. If someone treats you badly, you should pray for them so that you can be true children of your Heavenly Father. God causes the sun to rise each morning, and it shines equally on everyone, good or bad. Also, God causes the rain to fall to the earth, and it rains for everyone equally, good or bad. For if you only love those who love you in return, have you done anything to earn a reward from God? Even those who collect the taxes for the Roman oppressors do that. And if you only extend your hospitality to your friends and relations, are you doing more than anyone else? Even those who don't know God to that. But your commitment to truth and justice must be total, just as your Heavenly Father is totally committed to truth and justice.

Be careful not to show off how "holy" you are for everyone to see. If you do, you will not be rewarded by God, your heavenly Father. So if you give something to someone who is poor, don't publicize it. There are plenty of hypocrites who like to look good in front of the crowd and be popular, but that is all the reward they are going to get. But if you give something to someone who is poor, do it secretly. That way only God will see what you've done, and He will give you a truly great reward.

When you pray, don't be like the hypocrites. They like to say their prayers in public so everyone can see them. That is all the reward they are going to get. But when you pray, do it secretly. Your Heavenly Father will meet you in secret and give you a truly great reward. But don't repeating the same prayers over and over again thinking you need to get God's attention so he will hear you. Your Heavenly Father knows what you need even before you ask him. So simply pray like this:

Father of us all,
Your dwelling place is in the heavens.
Your Name is holy.
Give us the bread we need for today.
Forgive us the debt we owe you because of the many ways we have offended you,
Just as we forgive the debt of those who have offended us.
Do not put us to the test,
But set us free from the evil.

Because if you forgive others the wrongs they have committed against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others the wrongs they have committed against you, your heavenly Father will not forgive you the wrongs you have committed against him.

When you observe a fast, don't go about with a pained expression on your face. Hypocrites want people to know they are fasting in order to be commended by them. That is all the reward they are going to get. When you fast, wash your face and look your best so no one will know you are fasting. Your heavenly Father does everything in unknown secrecy. He will notice your secret fast and give you a truly great reward.

Don't strive to build up riches here on earth. Your fine cloths will be eaten by moths. Your precious metals will rust away. Your beautiful houses will be broken into by thieves and everything stolen. Instead, build up riches in heaven where they cannot be destroyed or taken away. Wherever you keep your riches is the place your affections truly lie.

The eye is the light that directs the body. If you look for ways to be generous, your whole body will radiate light. But if you look for ways to be stingy, your whole body will be full of darkness. Worse still, if you think that you are kind and generous but are really selfish and greedy, then you are blinded in your own blackness.

No one can enter a competition and play for both teams, or take to the field of battle and fight for both sides. You must choose sides. You will love one and hate the other. You will devote yourself to one and reject the other. You cannot serve both God and earthly riches.

So don't worry about your life. Don't be concerned with what you eat or drink or what clothes you wear. Isn't there more to life than food? Aren't there more important things than fancy clothes? Look at the birds flying above you. They don't farm. They don't plant crops or harvest them or store them in barns. But your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren't you worth much more than they are? Do you think worrying will make you live longer? And why are you worried about how you dress? Look at the wildflowers growing all around you. Do you see them spinning and dying wool or weaving fine clothes? I assure you that even King Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as these simple field flowers - that some of you will pick and use in your ovens to bake tomorrow's bread. Don't you think God will also dress you? How little faith you have. So stop worrying about what to eat or what to drink or what to wear. Everyone desires such things, and your heavenly Father knows you need them. But determine to live your life the way God wants you to, under his authority, and all these things will come to you as well. Don't worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow will take care of itself. You have enough to deal with today.

Do not pass judgment on others so that you will not be judged. You will be judged in the same way you judge others. The way you treat others is the same way you will be treated. Why do you focus on the splinter in someone else's eye, and fail to notice the log that is in your own eye? Do you really say to your friend, "Here, let me help you take the splinter out of your eye," and completely ignore the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite! Instead, take the log out of your own eye first. Then you will be able to see clearly to remove the splinter from your friend's eye.

Don't take something that is set apart as holy and feed it to the dogs. Don't take something as valuable as pearls and toss it into the hog's slop. They will just trample it as worthless and then turn on you. You will be lucky if you are not torn to pieces.

You will be given what you ask for. You will find what you look for. And if you knock on a door, it will be opened for you. Everyone who asks - receives. Everyone who searches - finds. Everyone who knocks, will pass through an opened door.

If your child asked you for a loaf of bread, would you give him a rock? If your child asked for a fish to eat, would you give him a snake? You are so caught up in survival in a hard life. But you know how to take care of your children. How much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.

In everything you do, treat other people the same way you want them to treat you. This summarizes everything written in the Law and the writings of the Prophets.

Go in through the narrow door. Most people take the easy road. It's wide and well traveled. It leads to a big, wide, open gate. But its destination is destruction. A few find the straight and narrow path that leads to life. That is the path you must take.

Be careful. A lot of preachers are false. They are like wolves who dress up like sheep in order to get close to the flock and then devour them. You will know them by the kind of fruit they produce. You do not go to a thorn bush and look for grapes. Neither do you go to a patch of thistles and look for figs. So a good tree produces good fruit. But a bad tree produces bad fruit. In fact, a good tree is not capable of producing bad fruit, just as a evil tree is not capable of producing good fruit. So, you will know them by their fruit. Every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and burned.

Not everyone who calls me "Lord" will enter the kingdom of heaven. Only those who do the will of my heavenly Father will enter the kingdom of heaven. In fact, there will be a lot of people who will cry out to me on judgment day, "Lord, didn't we preach in your name? Didn't we exorcise demons in your name? Didn't we perform lots of miracles in your name?" But I will say to them, "Leave me. You produced contempt for the law of God."

Therefore, everyone who doesn't just listen to what I am saying, but also follows my teaching is like a wise man who built his house on a firm foundation of bedrock. So when the storm came and the flood waters rose, it didn't collapse because it had a bedrock foundation. But everyone who has listened to what I've said but refuses to follow my teaching is like a foolish man who built his house on a foundation of sand. When the storm came and the floodwaters rose, it collapsed and was totally destroyed.

Reprinted with permission. © 2014 by Lumen Christi Press