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Living the Beatitudes
Monday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time
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. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Opening Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you for teaching us how to be happy and holy by giving us the beatitudes. Help me to learn how to love others as you have loved me (cf. John 13:34).
- A Blessed Paradox: Life in Christ is often full of paradoxes. The world says that money, power, comfort, pleasure, and self-glory are the things that will bring us happiness. But here, Jesus teaches us something completely different. In order to live as his disciples and love others, we must not strive for the things of this world. Instead, we must actually seek out and cultivate their direct opposites: poverty, meekness, mercy, humility, suffering, and persecution. “Beatitude” means “blessedness,” and even “supreme happiness.” What a paradox: to find supreme happiness, we must not be attached to the things that many people would say are integral to happiness. Some people unknowingly make idols out of temporal things, such as money, pleasure, comfort, and power. God said, “You must not make idols for yourselves (Leviticus 26:1). We can ask ourselves if any earthly things have become “idols” to us. A good place to start is by prayerfully examining what things we are most attached to and discerning if those things are coming between ourselves and God. If something comes up as an obstacle, we should choose to focus on the opposite beatitude. For example, someone who seeks power or control in an inordinate way would want to focus on the beatitude of meekness.
- The Tree of Blessing: The things that will make us happy are the things that will bring us closer to God. What Jesus is teaching us is that holiness will lead to our happiness. Jesus is teaching us how to live the new commandment he gave us at the Last Supper: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34). Bishop Robert Barron wrote, “What Jesus gives us in the Sermon on the Mount, therefore, is the new law that would discipline our desires, our minds, and our bodies so as to make real happiness possible.” St. Augustine wrote about how earthly things can never really make us happy in the long term: “The river of temporal things hurries one along: but like a tree sprung up beside the river is our Lord Jesus Christ…It was his will to plant himself, in a manner beside the river of the things of time.” Psalm 1 speaks about how a blessed man is like such a tree: Blessed is the man…[whose] delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers” (v. 1-3). Let us be content to relax under the tree of Christ in imitation of his virtues. May we not strive and claw for earthly things but become peaceful and happy by imitating Christ.
- Imitating Christ: Each of these beatitudes describes an aspect of Jesus. Jesus is poor in spirit. He was born in a stable to poor, humble parents (cf. Luke 2). Jesus mourns when his friend Lazarus dies (cf. John 11:35). Jesus is “meek and humble of heart” (Matthew 11:29). Jesus hungers and thirsts for righteousness when he cleanses the temple (Matthew 21:12). Jesus is mercy itself: “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice” (Matthew 9:13). Jesus is clean of heart, conceived immaculately, and born of an immaculate mother (cf. Luke 1:26-36). He undoes Adam’s sin with his own sinlessness (cf. Romans 5:12-21). Jesus is peace itself, and he offers us his peace, which the world cannot give us (cf. John 14:27). Jesus was and is still persecuted, and many evil and false accusations were made against him at his trial (cf. Mark 14:56). He was persecuted until death, “even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8). We who are his disciples are called to imitate the beatitudes in imitation of him, the example par excellence of all virtues. Jesus is the source of all virtues. When we practice imitating Christ and pray to the Holy Spirit to bless us with his gifts, we will joyfully bear fruit and glorify God (cf. John 15:8).
Conversing with Christ: Jesus, thank you for teaching me how to live here and now in a way that glorifies you and brings light and life to my brothers and sisters. Help me keep your new commandment to love others by living my life in accordance with these guidelines for happiness and holiness. I want to love and serve you with all my heart.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will choose one beatitude to focus on, as a way to grow in love for you and others.
For Further Reflection: Listen to this podcast on the beatitudes from Word on Fire by Bishop Barron, “The Greatest Sermon Ever Preached.”
Written by Carey Boyzuck.