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The Heavenly Idea of Happiness
Wednesday of the Twenty-Third Week in Ordinary Time
Raising his eyes toward his disciples Jesus said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for the Kingdom of God is yours. Blessed are you who are now hungry, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who are now weeping, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice and leap for joy on that day! Behold, your reward will be great in Heaven. For their ancestors treated the prophets in the same way. But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. But woe to you who are filled now, for you will be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will grieve and weep. Woe to you when all speak well of you, for their ancestors treated the false prophets in this way.”
Opening Prayer: Jesus, sometimes your ways are hard to understand because they are so different from the ways of the world. Help me understand your blessings and warnings so that my heart and mind are conformed to yours.
- A Blessed Paradox: St. Luke’s version of the beatitudes offers us the heavenly idea of happiness. To be “blessed” means to be happy. The beatitudes paint a picture of the abundant life he wants us to enjoy (John 10:10). In the heavenly economy, those who are poor, hungry, weeping, and hated are happy. This is quite different from the world’s idea of happiness, which says “eat, drink, and be merry!” Jesus is teaching us that we will be truly happy only when we place him at the center of our life and let go of the temporal things that block our relationship with him.
- Heavenly Rewards: Notice that each of these beatitudes have a heavenly reward attached to them. The poor here on earth will inherit the Kingdom. The hungry will be filled and those in mourning will rejoice. Those who are persecuted will be great in Heaven. As Mary sang of God in her Magnificat, “He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts, he has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away” (Luke 1:51-53). As Christian disciples, we are subjects of Christ’s Kingdom, called to live differently from the rest of the world. Jesus exhorts us to “lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:20-21). By trying to live the beatitudes, we store up treasures in Heaven.
- Everyday Holiness: Each of the different versions of the beatitudes in the Gospels give us a blueprint for everyday holiness. By being detached from earthly pleasures and keeping our lives rightly ordered with Jesus at the center, we participate in God’s holiness. Pope Francis wrote, “Do not be afraid of holiness. It will take away none of your energy, vitality, or joy. On the contrary, you will become what the Father had in mind when he created you, and you will be faithful to your deepest self” (Gaudete et Exsultate [Rejoice and Be Glad] 32). Focusing on things that are eternal helps us to stop striving so much and brings us peace, little by little. When we live this way, we become increasingly dependent on God to provide for us. We proclaim: “Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is in the Lord” (Jeremiah 17:7).
Conversing with Christ: Jesus, rule my heart and establish the values of your Kingdom in me so that I desire the things you desire. By your grace, grant me the virtues I need to live out the detachment that your beatitudes teach. Order my life so that you are in the center. Jesus, you are the source and summit of my life.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will pray the Litany of Humility, asking you to make me poor in spirit and unafraid of persecution.
For Further Reflection: Read Mary’s Magnificat in Luke 1:46-55, keeping in mind the beatitudes. Consider how Mary is called “blessed” for all generations and how she lived out the beatitudes in her earthly life.
Carey Boyzuck, MTS, is a wife, mother, freelance writer, pastoral assistant, and lay member of Regnum Christi. She blogs at www.word-life-light.com.