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35 Magnificat and Sermon on the Mount

The following passages are from the Christian gospel of Luke, dating from the later part of the first century CE. The first passage is Mary’s Magnificat, an early Christian song, as well as the Sermon on the Plain, a shorter telling of the Sermon on the Mount, a longer version found in the Christian gospel of Matthew.

The Magnificat is notable for its condemnation of societies that do not treat the vulnerable well, echoing many of the warnings found in the Hebrew prophets. The Sermon on the Plain and the Sermon on the Mount are famous summaries of early Christian ethics.

Magnificat by Ben Wildflower
Magnificat by Ben Wildflower. Used with permission of the artist.

Mary’s Magnificat

My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,[1]

for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;

for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.

His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.

He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.

He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;

he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.

He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,

according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

Sermon on the Plain

He came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon.[2] They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them.

Blessings and Woes

Then he looked up at his disciples and said:

Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.

Blessed are you who are hungry now,
for you will be filled.

Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.

Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man.  Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.

But woe to you who are rich,
    for you have received your consolation.

Woe to you who are full now,
for you will be hungry.

Woe to you who are laughing now,
for you will mourn and weep.

Woe to you when all speak well of you,
for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.

Love for Enemies

But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.  If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return.  Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.  Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Judging Others

Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.

He also told them a parable:

Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully qualified will be like the teacher. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your neighbor,‘Friend, let me take out the speck in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.

A Tree and Its Fruit

No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit;  for each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.

The Two Foundations

Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I tell you?  I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them. That one is like a man building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when a flood arose, the river burst against that house but could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not act is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against it, immediately it fell, and great was the ruin of that house.

Media Attributions


  1. This passage is taken from Luke 1, NRSV.
  2. This passage was taken from Luke 7, NRSV.

License

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Phronesis by Henry Imler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.