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Home Sections The Daily B.R.E.A.D. The Beatitudes: A Way of Sanctity and Happiness.
The Beatitudes: A Way of Sanctity and Happiness. PDF Print E-mail
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Sections - The Daily B.R.E.A.D.
Sunday, 03 February 2008 05:03


A
huge crowd of people from many different places has gathered around Our Lord. They are hoping to hear from him his saving doctrine which will give meaning to their lives. Seeing the crowds, He went up on the mountain, and when He sat down his disciples came to him. And He opened his mouth and taught them (Matt 5:1-2).

It is not difficult for us to imagine the impression Our Lord’s words must have made on his hearers. Many of them would have been disconcerted and some of them even disappointed.

Jesus proposed a totally different way. He exalts and blesses poverty, meekness, mercy, purity and humility.

Jesus had just expressed in precise terms the new spirit He had come to bring on earth. It was in the most real sense a revolutionary spirit, a spirit which involved a complete change from the usual and generally accepted human values, such as those of the Pharisees who saw earthly happiness as God’s blessing and reward, and who looked on unhappiness and misfortune as God’s punishment (cf The Navarre Bible, note to Matt 5:2). In general, ancient man, even among the People of Israel, had sought as his chief good wealth, pleasure and power, and being held in high regard by others. He considered all these things as the acme of well-being, the fount of all happiness.

Jesus here proposes a totally different way. He exalts and blesses poverty, meekness, mercy, purity and humility (Fray Justo Perez de Urbel, Life of Christ). As we meditate again in our prayer on these words of Our Lord, we see that even in our day people tend to be disconcerted by this admittedly startling contrast. They see on the one hand the tribulation that the way of the Beatitudes must necessarily bring with it, and on the other hand the genuine happiness that Jesus promises. The essential idea that Jesus wanted to impress on his listeners was this: only serving God brings happiness to man. In the midst of poverty, of pain and a sense of having been forsaken, the true servant of God can say with Saint Paul: "My joy overflows in the midst of all my tribulations." And on the other hand a man can be desperately unhappy even though he lives surrounded by opulence and possesses all earthly goods (ibidem).There is a reason too for those exclamations of Our Lord’s appearing immediately after the Beatitudes in Saint Luke’s Gospel: Woe to you that are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full now … Woe to you, when all men speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets (Luke6:24-26).

Jesus Christ preached the good news to all without distinction.

The people who listened to Our Lord well understood that those Beatitudes were not intended to establish different categories of people, that they did not promise salvation to particular groups of society, but that they unequivocally laid down the religious dispositions and moral conduct that Jesus demands of all those who want to follow him. That is to say, the poor in spirit, the meek, those who mourn ... do not point to headings that differentiate people from each other, but ... are like different aspects of the demands for sanctity directed to everyone who wants to be Christ’s disciple (The Navarre Bible, note to Matt 5:2).

Because Our Lord Jesus Christ preached the good news to all without distinction. One cooking pot and only one kind of food: ‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work’ (John 4:34). He calls each and every one to holiness. He asks each and every one - young and old, single and married, healthy and sick, learned and unlearned, no matter where they work or where they are - to love him (J. Escrivá, Friends of God, 294). Whatever the circumstances of our life, we must know that we are invited to live the Christian life in all its fullness. We cannot make excuses, we cannot say to Our Lord: ‘Wait until I have solved this problem!’ or ‘Give me until I have recovered from this illness!’ or ‘Hold on until I am no longer suffering calumny or persecution, then I will really begin to seek holiness!’ We would be sadly mistaken not to make best use of these difficult circumstances to unite ourselves more closely to God. # # #

With permission from Scepter UK. Short excerpt from IN CONVERSATION WITH GOD by Francis Fernandez. Available at SinagTala or Totus Bookstore 723-4326 or at www.totusbookstore.com (info@totusbookstore.com)

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Last Updated on Sunday, 03 February 2008 05:41
 

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