Today’s painting probably doesn’t match your usual mental image of the Sermon on the Mount, especially the two cherubic angels. For me, the notable thing this painting conveys is the rapt attention all present give to the voice of Jesus, the Good Shepherd. What do their expressions and postures indicate about their reactions to his words? The Beatitudes constitute another extremely familiar passage from scripture, so familiar that we may easily gloss over the pointed inversion of the world’s values that Jesus is teaching. Read the passage slowly and ask yourself: if this is what it really means to be “blessed,” am I? Do I want to be?
The Holy Gospel Matthew 5:1-10
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness" sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
The Sermon on the Mount
Sebastano Ricci c. 1725
Oil on Canvas