Luke 1-6:16 forms the literary context for the Sermon on the Plain. This context grounds Jesus' teaching authority as the Son of God. The Beatitudes and woes (6:20-26) establish a revolutionary vision of the authentic human life. The love commandment is grounded in two general ethical principles - the Golden Rule (6:31) as a maxim of general altruism and the imitatio Dei (6:36) making human conduct respond to the deepest human desires intimitated in the Rule. Consequently, Christian disciples are to avoid hostile judgement, as their master did (6:37-42); one can judge truly only by examining the fruits one produces (6:43-45). These commands, which carry human authenticity beyond its limits, are the only way to avoid total destruction (6:46-49).
Children of a Compassionate God is a detailed theological examination of Luke's "Sermon on the Plain, " the counterpart in Luke's Gospel to Matthew's "Sermon on the Mount." Utilizing composition criticism, L. John Topel, S.J., explains what Luke meant Jesus' words to say to Luke's late first-century community and what such a message might mean to contemporary Christians.
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