Snippets that I like from “The Lord,” by Romano Guardini.
Some of the uniqueness of the Sermon on the Mount includes:
1. The energy with which it insists upon progression from the outer, specific act of virtue to the inner, all-permeating state of virtue.
2. Its demand that the degree of identification-of-self-with-neighbor be the sole measure for purity of intent.
3. Its definition of love is the essence of man’s new disposition.
In the Sermon on the Mount, God is calling us to a vocation, one which is the “living intention of God, [the] efficacy of His love in the chosen one.”
And isn’t this what it is all about? Not taking the credit for our own goodness as anything of our own doing, but rather recognizing the fact that all goodness comes from God. Our “goodness” or properly ordered acts are rather merely a cooperation with the graces given by God. We are not so much acting of our own volition, but cooperating with His will. We are letting His grace flow through us; we are letting His love be efficacious through us. We are, if you will, merely a conduit for His action. This is not to say we are mere tools. What saves us from this is the fact of our free will. We have the option of being not so much a conduit, but more of a dam — stemming the flow of God’s grace. We can refuse to cooperate with His will, and in so doing thwart the efficacy of His love.
A great analogy of this was given by Deacon John last Sunday: our relationship with God is a lot like a pair of magnets. In the proper order of things, we are aligned so that we natually have an attraction to God and move in His direction, the same way that properly aligned magnets have an attraction for each other and seek to become one, even to the point of joining their electromagnetic fields to make one, stronger, field. When we choose to sin, we are flipping one of the magnets around. God stays in the same orientation, but we have turned away from Him, and in so doing, we have created an obligatory separation. Aligned in this manner, no longer is there one magnetic field, but two. The harder one tries to push the two magnets together, the greater the force which separates them. You cannot join yourself to God if you remain oriented away from Him. Great analogy. Points to Deacon John for appealing to my ET Nuke nerdiness. 🙂
“What the Sermon on the Mount demands is not everything or nothing, but a beginning and continuing, a rising again and plodding on after every fall.”