THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT
The window depicts Christ the Teacher giving His Sermon on the Mount. This sermon, reported by St. Matthew in chapters 5-7, is a summary of the new law of love that Christ is giving to His people. Christ is portrayed seated on the mount that raises Him above the worldly environment which too often is pervaded by selfishness, prejudice and pride. His hands are raised in the solemn gesture of one who is teaching eternal truths. He proclaims the eight Beatitudes, which are in marked contrast to what the world in general teaches and believes.
The Beatitudes, far from being passive or mild, are a gauntlet flung down before the world’s accepted standards. They are the substance of the Sermon on the Mount, the mountain itself suggesting the new Sinai, for here is the new law of love. The artist has incorporated the Beatitudes in this window using symbolical figures and designs.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit.” This Beatitude is represented by the parable of the publican and the Pharisee (lower left lancet). Two men are depicted as they appear in the temple; the Pharisee expressing haughty self-pride, standing before the altar, and the publican standing humbly in the background. He does not dare to lift up his eyes, praying only, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” The publican represents the poor in spirit, because “everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will he exalted.” (Luke 18:14)
“Blessed are they that mourn.” Among those who have followed the Lord to the mount is a woman who mourns. She represents all who have experienced the burden of sorrow, and she listens in quiet trust to the promise of the Saviour. From Him comes words of comfort and hope, for He is the Resurrection and the Life. To Him we commit those who have ended their earthly pilgrimage.
“Blessed are the weak.” This Beatitude is symbolized by the calm serenity ofa child whose hand rests upon a lamb. “Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 18:3) Christ Himself was the Lamb of God, Whose meekness was stronger than the strength of the mighty.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness.” This is symbolized by the birds that drink from the pure water springing from the rock, and reminds us of the great words of the Prophet Amos, who said, “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.” (Amos 5:24)
“Blessed are the merciful.” This Beatitude is illustrated by the parable of the Good Samaritan. The Good Samaritan ministers with tender compassion to the unfortunate stranger who lies wounded by the wayside, in marked contrast to the priest and the Levite who continue their journey with no concern for the man needing help. When Jesus told this story, He asked which of the three proved to be the good neighbor. The answer was, “The one who showed mercy.” And Jesus said, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10)
“Blessed are the pure in heart.” The ﬂeur-de-lis is a symbol of purity in ecclesiastical art, and is so represented in the window.
“Blessed are the peacemakers.” This Beatitude is symbolized by a dove with an olive branch.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.” Persecution is symbolized by the chain, the tool of tyrants. The crown signifies our Lord's promise that those who are persecuted for His sake and the Gospels will inherit the Kingdom.