I read this story from an Unknown Source that an old man was asked what had robbed him of joy the most in his lifetime. He replied, “Things that never happened!” Somebody also has cited three keys to happiness: 1) Fret not, He loves you (John 13:1), 2) Faint not, He holds you (Psalm 139:10), 3) Fear not, He keeps you (Psalm 121:5).
Today’s gospel text is called The Beatitudes which come from the Latin word, beati, meaning ‘blessed’ or ‘happy.’ St. Matthew places this at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry and this is the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount.
Beatitude is the opening word of each statement. The Beatitudes of Our Lord praise those whose lives shine with the distinctive patterns of living that Christ has exemplified and lived: forms of living that are patterns for living as His true disciples. That is why the Catechism of the Catholic Church (no. 1716) says that, “the Beatitudes are at the heart of Jesus’ preaching.” What is the significance of Jesus’ beatitudes and why are they so central to His teaching?
Somebody said that the Eight Beatitudes can guide us into a more love-filled life. The first four deals with our relationship with God and the last four deals with our relationships with others.
The first beatitude (v. 3) is we are ‘poor in spirit’ because we depend on God instead of material security. We are enriched by His faithfulness, mercy and love.
The second beatitude (v. 4) is we ‘mourn,’ i.e., when we realize that we fall short of God’s glory by relying on the world’s ways instead of God’s ways. He comforts us and supports us in our efforts to detach from the world and become more like Him.
The third beatitude (v. 5) is we are ‘meek,’ i.e., when we submit to God’s will and filled with a passion to right the wrong and compassion to offer renewal to sinners.
The fourth beatitude (v. 6) is we ‘hunger and thirst for righteousness,’ i.e., when we desire to live morally or to put an end to injustices that we witness. When justice flourishes, God’s righteousness reigns.
The second half of the Beatitudes is a list of fruits that are produced by the spiritual growth that we gain in the first half.
The fifth beatitude (v. 7) is when we are poor in spirit and place our trust in God’s mercy (verse 3), we gain the spiritual maturity to be merciful to others, which results in the blessing of receiving even more of God’s mercy.
The sixth beatitude (v. 8) is when we desire to be ‘clean’ in our hearts because we mourn the damage our sins have done (verse 4) that hurt others. And this leads us to greater holiness, and then we see God working through us to help others.
The seventh beatitude (v. 9) is we become peacemakers, because we submit ourselves to God’s will and we handle conflicts the way Jesus does. Peace is founded on love, justice and truth. When one of these human values is violated, peace is not attained.
The eighth beatitude (vv. 10-12) is when we are like Christ because we live as He lives and for this reason others persecute us. They don’t want to learn from our example of holiness, so they insult us and try to stop us. This is a tremendous blessing, because it lets us know that we are indeed living the Beatitudes. Do you know who is living the Beatitudes? What Beatitude experience do you have?