Appleton, WI

August 3: Day by Day with Father Bill

-from Father Richard Rohr, OFM, and the Center for Contemplation and Action

I am grateful that my spiritual father, St Francis of Assisi, took the Sermon on the Mount seriously and spent his life trying to imitate Jesus. Likewise, Francis’ followers, especially in the beginning, tried to imitate Francis. Like the Quakers, Shakers, Amish, Mennonites, and the Catholic Worker Movement, Franciscanism offers a simple return to the Gospel as an alternative lifestyle more than an orthodox belief system. The Sermon on the Mount was not just words for these groups! They focused on including the outsider, preferring the bottom to the top, a commitment to nonviolence, and choosing social poverty and divine union over any private perfection or sense of moral superiority…Dorothy Day (1897-1980), one of the founders of the Catholic Worker Movement, understood the Sermon on the Mount as the foundational plan for following Jesus. Our manifest is the Sermon on the Mount, which means that we will try to be peacemakers…We are trying to lead a good life. We are trying to talk about and write about the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, the social principles of the church, and it is most astounding, the things that happen when you start trying to live this way. To perform the works of mercy becomes a dangerous practice. That’s because Jesus was teaching an alternative wisdom that shakes the social order instead of upholding the conventional wisdom that maintains it. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is not about preserving the status quo! It’s about living here on earth as if the Reign of God has already begun. In this Reign, the Sermon tells us, the poor are blessed, the hungry are filled, the grieving are filled with joy, and enemies are loved.