If anyone should meditate with devotion and perspicacity
on the sermon our Lord gave on the mount, as we read in
the Gospel of SaintMatthew, hewill doubtless find there . . . the
perfect way of the Christian life. . . . This sermon contains . . . all
the precepts needed to shape one’s life.
The Law of the Gospel “fulfills,” refines, surpasses, and
leads the Old Law to its perfection.
In the Beatitudes, the New
fulfills the divine promises
by elevating and orienting them
toward the “kingdom of heaven.” It is addressed to those open to
accepting this new hope with faith—the poor, the humble, the
afflicted, the pure of heart, those persecuted on account of Christ—
and so marks out the surprising ways of the Kingdom.
The Law of the Gospel
fulfills the commandments
of the Law.
The Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, far from abolishing or devaluing
the moral prescriptions of the Old Law, releases their hidden
potential and has new demands arise from them: it reveals their
entire divine and human truth. It does not add new external
precepts, but proceeds to reform the heart, the root of human acts,
where man chooses between the pure and the impure,
faith, hope, and charity are formed and with them the other virtues.
The Gospel thus brings the Law to its fullness through imitation of
the perfection of the heavenly Father, through forgiveness of ene
mies and prayer for persecutors, in emulation of the divine
The New Law
practices the acts of religion:
prayer and fasting, directing them to the “Father who sees in
secret,” in contrast with the desire to “be seen by men.”
prayer is the Our Father.
The Law of the Gospel requires us to make the decisive
choice between “the two ways” and to put into practice the words
of the Lord.
It is summed up in the
wish that men would do to you, do so to them; this is the law and
20 St. Augustine,
De serm. Dom.
1, 1: PL 34, 1229-1230.