Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge observes, ‘A text without a context is a pretext.’
Brendan Byrne SJ, author of Lifting the Burden (2004), gives the bi-context of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).
First, the preamble of Matthew 4:23-25:
Jesus goes through Galilee and Syria teaching, proclaiming the good news, and healing every kind of disease.
Then Matthew 8-9 follows on with no less than nine miracles. Immediately, we sense the deep connection between teaching and healing, so much so that Byrne comments:
Jesus’ teaching is healing and Jesus’ healing is teaching.’
Modern commentators have noticed that the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12) can be broken up into two sections – not independent, certainly complementary.
The first three deal with vulnerability. The remaining five deal with quiet confidence.
If we are to be ‘salt of the earth and light to the world,’ then we must have sympathy with others in their weakness, frailty and vulnerability – that originates in Jesus himself.
On the other hand, if we are to go out to others with the ‘good news,’ we must have a quiet confidence – not arrogance – that originates in Jesus himself.
Am I aware of my vulnerability? Am I quietly confident?