Sermon on the Plain and the World Passing Away


In the gospel reading at Holy Mass today, we read “Blessed are the poor…  Blessed are those who hunger…  Blessed are those who weep…”  Sounds like the…  Beatitudes.

The Beatitudes come at the beginning of the Sermon on the…  Mount?!  In the gospel according to…  Matthew?!

But today we read from the gospel according to Luke.

And the verses before today’s passage indicate that “Jesus came down and stood on a stretch of level ground.”

It’s the beginning of the Sermon on the Plain.

If you think I am making that up, I could see why you would.  But it’s a thing, a legit thing.  Christ’s Sermon on the Plain, recounted in St. Luke’s gospel–just like His Sermon on the Mount is recounted in St. Matthew’s.

Seems to me that St. Paul reflects Christ’s message in the passage from I Corinthians that we also read at today’s Mass.  St. Paul recommends that we Christians abstain from marriage and sex, as he recommends that we abstain from all inordinate attachment to the things of this world.

Not because marriage or weeping or rejoicing or buying or living in this world all involve pure evil—no.  Rather because the world in its present form is…  passing away.

On Sunday we will mark the 15th anniversary of 9/11.  The old Twin Towers always meant a lot to me, and I have read a bit about the mechanics of their construction and destruction.

During the design phase in the late 1960’s, they did a detailed study about the potential impact of a plane accidentally crashing into one of the buildings because of fog or a storm.  It never occurred to anyone then that terrorists would intentionally fly planes into the Twin Towers.  No one imagined such malevolence.

I’m not an engineer, of course.  But as I was reading about how they designed the Twin Towers, I thought to myself: it might be interesting to read that study about what would happen if a plane flew into one of the buildings by accident.

But you can’t read it.  The airplane-impact study from the sixties was itself lost forever on September 11, 2001.  There were only two copies, and, of course, they were in the buildings.

The world as we know it is passing away.  Blessed are those whose hearts belong to God.

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