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Fr. Joseph Clayton Neiman
an Episcopal priest   
  In Paw Paw, MI   

[William Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury

Feast day: Nov 6th]


All Saints                            Rev. 7:9-18; Ps 34:1-10; 1 Jn 3:1-3; Mt 5:1-12

St. Mark’s, Grand Rapids                                            Fr. Joseph Neiman


Theme: “He opened his mouth and taught them… ”

(Mt. 5:1-2)


Tuesday. Tuesday “the great race” will be over, then the media will spend the rest of the week speaking about the winners and the losers and why it happened. Large crowds have been gathering throughout the recent months, both physically and through television, to listen to the words of the various candidates, to hear how each would lead this state and country into a new future. That is a fitting background for the Gospel this morning.  

“Seeing the crowds, Jesus went up on the mountain, and when he sat down his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them….”
(Mt 5:1-2). Now we really do not know how large that crowd of disciples was on that day in Galilee, but let’s look at what they sought and what Jesus gave them.

The translation you just heard says “Jesus began to speak, and taught them….” The one I quoted, the Revised Standard Translation, says “Jesus opened his mouth and taught them…..” This is a strange image which we would rather translate simply with the word “speak.” What Jesus literally said lies buried in history behind Matthew’s report, and Matthew is well aware he is addressing Jews familiar with the Hebrew Scriptures, which we call the Old Testament. His use of the phrase “opened his mouth” evokes among them the Torah or the Law, as we heard about last week, specifically in this case the code of law imbedded in the book of Deuteronomy.

Listen a moment to what Jews would call to mind when they heard this opening phrase. The scene in Deuteronomy is one of Moses teaching his people, before he dies, the wisdom he has learned, the revelation he has received when he went up on Mount Sinai and met God “face to face” as we are told. Moses says on behalf of God:

This entire commandment that I command you today you must diligently observe, so that you may live and increase, and go in and occupy the land that the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors. 2Remember the long way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, in order to humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commandments. 3He humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna, with which neither you nor your ancestors were acquainted, in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” (Deut 8:1-3).

We do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God! That’s God’s word for us this morning as our consciousness continues to absorb all the political messages which promise at the state and federal levels we will have more “bread” if we elect these candidates and their platform.