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Black, White, and Grays and the Sermon on the Mount

One way to make enemies and antagonize people is to challenge the spirit of the world. The world has a spirit, as each age has a spirit. There are certain unanalyzed assumptions which govern the conduct of the world. Anyone who challenges these worldly maxims, such as “you only live once,” “get as much out of life as you can,” “who will ever know about it?” “what is sex for if not for pleasure?” is bound to make himself unpopular.

In the Beatitudes, Our Divine Lord takes those eight flimsy catchwords of the world—“Security,” “Revenge,” “Laughter,” “Popularity,” “Getting Even,” “Sex,” “Armed Might,” and “Comfort”—and turns them upside down.


Those who would escape the impact of the Beatitudes say that Our Divine Savior was a creature of His time, but not of ours, and that, therefore, His Words do not apply to us. […] Our Lord did not belong to His day, any more than He belonged to ours. To marry one age is to be a widow in the next. Because He suited no age, He was the model for all ages. He never used a phrase that depended on the social order in which He lived; His Gospel was no easier then than it is now.


The Sermon on the Mount is so much at variance with all that our world holds dear that the world will crucify anyone who tries to live up to its values. Because Christ preached them, He had to die. Calvary was the price He paid for the Sermon on the Mount. Only mediocrity survives. Those who call black black and white white, are sentenced for intolerance. Only the grays live.

—from Life of Christ by Fulton Sheen, Ch. 11: Beatitudes

life of Christ


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