Illustration by Phil Younk
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Based on the Gospel of Matthew 5:1-12
For here and now and hereafter!
Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in St. Matthew’s Gospel is the most familiar and beloved of Jesus’ major teachings. Jesus begins with the Beatitudes. The word “beatitudes” comes from the Latin word “beatus,” which means “blessed” or “happy.”
Jesus came to teach a way of living radically different from our culture and to change hearts. The key to such living is love. God is love and Jesus’ great command to us is to love one another as he loves us.
Each of the Beatitudes identifies a fundamental Christian virtue that Jesus exemplified throughout his life: humility, mercy, gentleness, purity, fortitude, justice and sorrow for sin. Jesus wants us to practice these virtues not only on how to get to heaven but to find true and lasting joy and happiness on earth.
Jesus tells us we are blessed, not only when things are good but also when things are not so good. God is with us always. When we turn to him and trust him for everything, he will bless us and help us to grow in our faith.
Jesus gives a new explanation of happiness. He says, “God will bless you people who are poor; his kingdom belongs to you. God will bless you hungry people; you will be given what you need. God will bless you people who are forgiving and peacemakers; you will be called his children. God will bless you people who are treated badly for doing right; you belong to the kingdom of heaven. God will bless you people who are sad and sorrowful; you will be comforted. God will bless you when others hate you or say cruel things and evil lies about you, all because you follow me. When these things happen to you, be happy and rejoice. You will have a great reward in heaven.”
Wow! Isn’t that an upside down idea of happiness? In other words, Jesus says:
• Happiness is not: having a lot of money; having power over others; being famous; being popular; or being able to do anything we want whenever we want.
• Happiness is: having our hearts centered on loving and serving God and others; not becoming attached to or wanting things the world says are important; bringing peace and gentleness into the lives of others; being forgiving; and trusting God in times of sorrow, disappointment, hurt and persecution.
To help us live a “blessed” life here and now, God freely gives us a share in his life – grace. Through the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and reconciliation, we receive his grace and Jesus touches and blesses our lives to make good choices, to trust in his promises, to love as he loves, and then someday to gain heaven with him for all eternity. Truly blessed are we!