THE BEATITUDES: WHY ARE THEY IMPORTANT?
We are going to commence a series of explanations on the meaning of the Beatitudes, preached by Our Lord Jesus during the Sermon of the Mount marrated by St. Matthew in Chapter 5 of the Gospel. The Evangelist wrote:
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him. He began to teach them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.”
The Sermon of Jesus on the Mount begins with a blessing formula: Blessed are…
- With this formula, someone is proclaimed blessed, blissful, happy…
- In this sense, Jesus shows the path towards the fulfillment of the desire for happiness is innate each man and woman: “we all want to live happily, and in the human race there is no one who does not give his assent to this proposition even before it is fully enunciated (St. Augustine, De moribus ecclesiae 1,3.4).
But who are those proclaimed happy by Jesus Christ?
Jesus did not proclaim as happy those who abound in material goods, those who are frivolous and superficial, the hardened and proud, the comfort-seeking, the slaves of the flesh, those who return evil for evil, those who persecute and those who slander.
- Rather, Jesus teaches that happy, blessed are the poor in spirit, those who cry, the meek, those who hunger and thirst, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peaceful, those who suffer for Christ: those who suffer persecution for their cause of justice, the injured and slandered by name….
- Because these are the attitudes that They depict the very countenance of Jesus and they characterize authentic Christian life. They reveal the ultimate goal of human activity, which is eternal happiness (Compendium n. 360).
- Indeed, Christ is the only one who absolutely fulfilled each and every Beatitude on the Cross. In Calvary, Jesus was poor in spirit, meek, hungry and thirsty for justice (=holiness), pure of heart, maker of peace, suffered persecution, and slandered.
- Whoever lives these attitudes and virtues of Jesus, according to the spirit that He teaches, has the door of heaven open for them. They are the roadmap, the path to human happiness because they express the double desire that God has inscribed in the heart: to seek true happiness on earth and to achieve eternal bliss.
In short, with the Beatitudes, Jesus teaches and shows us HIS path towards salvation, towards eternal happiness. He reminds us that the Beatitudes are the way which He himself had taken to bring us to salvation and true happiness, and He invites each one of us to follow and embark on HIS path and not the path taught by the world and erroneously chosen by men.
The Navarre Bible commentary to the verses of Mt 5:1-12 teaches that:
- “The Beatitudes (5:3-12) form, as it were, the gateway of the Sermon on the Mount. In order to understand the Beatitudes properly, we should bear in mind that they do not promise salvation only to the particular kinds of people listed here: they cover everyone whose religious dispositions and moral conduct meet the demands which Jesus lays down.
- In other words, the poor in spirit, the meek, those who mourn, those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers and those who suffer persecution in their search for holiness — these are not different people or kinds of people but different demands made on everyone who wants to be a disciple of Christ.
- Similarly, salvation is not being promised to different groups in society but to everyone, no matter what his or her position in life, who strives to follow the spirit and to meet the demands contained in the Beatitudes.
- All the Beatitudes have an eschatological meaning, that is, they promise us definitive salvation not in this world, but in the next. But the spirit of the Beatitudes does give us, in this life, peace in the midst of tribulation.
- The Beatitudes imply a completely new approach, quite at odds with the usual way man evaluates things: they rule out any kind of pharisaical religiosity, which regards earthly happiness as a blessing from God and a reward for good behaviour, and unhappiness and misfortune as a form of punishment.
- In all ages the Beatitudes put spiritual good on a much higher plane than material possessions. The healthy and the sick, the powerful and the weak, the rich and the poor … are all called, independently of their circumstances, to the deep happiness that is experienced by those who live up to the Beatitudes which Jesus teaches.
- The Beatitudes do not, of course, contain the entire teaching of the Gospel, but they do contain, in embryo, the whole programme of Christian perfection.” Navarre Bible Commentary to the Gospel of St. Matthew 5:2
Dear brethren in Christ, in the text below,
you have the following points of the
Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church
on the Beatitudes, which is the central theme of next Sunday’s readings.
Happy viewing and reviewing!
A Blessed week ahead to you and your family.
Fr. Rolly Arjonillo
OUR VOCATION TO BEATITUDE
359. How do we attain beatitude?
We attain beatitude by virtue of the grace of Christ which makes us participants in the divine life. Christ in the Gospel points out to his followers the way that leads to eternal happiness: the beatitudes. The grace of Christ also is operative in every person who, following a correct conscience, seeks and loves the true and the good and avoids evil.
360. Why are the beatitudes important for us?
The beatitudes are at the heart of Jesus’ preaching and they take up and fulfill the promises that God made starting with Abraham. They depict the very countenance of Jesus and they characterize authentic Christian life. They reveal the ultimate goal of human activity, which is eternal happiness.
361. What is the relationship between the beatitudes and our desire for happiness?
The beatitudes respond to the innate desire for happiness that God has placed in the human heart in order to draw us to himself. God alone can satisfy this desire.
362. What is eternal happiness?
It is the vision of God in eternal life in which we are fully “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4), of the glory of Christ and of the joy of the trinitarian life. This happiness surpasses human capabilities. It is a supernatural and gratuitous gift of God just as is the grace which leads to it. This promised happiness confronts us with decisive moral choices concerning earthly goods and urges us to love God above all things.
AUDIO CREDIT: Palestrina – Sanctus – Benedictus – Osanna II by The Tudor Consort is licensed under a Attribution License in http://freemusicarchive.org/music/The_Tudor_Consort/~/12_Sanctus_-_Benedictus_-_Osanna
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