Matthew 5: 1-12
Rev 7:2-4,9-14 / Ps 24 / 1Jn 3:1-3
Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven.
Meekness is the best attitude,
Just as the worst one is our pride.
The Lord gave us the Beatitudes
To inspire us and be our guide.
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and He began to teach them saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those 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 sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:1-12)
Most of the lessons that Jesus taught His followers then, as He is teaching us now, seem to be encapsulated in the Beatitudes. According to our Lord, it is the poor, the mourning, the humble, the hungry, and those who are persecuted who will eventually be the winners in the kingdom of God.
The 1st lesson in the Beatitudes is realizing how poor we are in spirit. It is acknowledging our sinfulness, and our total dependence on God’s mercy, as well as His generosity. We can never achieve salvation on our own and must therefore put our complete faith in Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, just as we put our trust in His Father for all our material needs. The second lesson is closely related to the first, if only to emphasize the importance of being penitent. It is mourning for the extreme pains and death that our Lord Jesus suffered in Calvary to redeem us from our sins. Many saints and martyrs who visualized the passion of Christ on the cross experienced such tremendous grief that their lives were transformed completely. Jesus cannot give comfort to those who do not mourn for their sins.
The third lesson follows naturally: once transformed by repentance, we become meek and pliant, submissive to God’s will. But this does not mean we become weak. On the contrary, we become stronger than before, because submission means bending our will and passions to conform to the new life that God is now calling us to follow. True humility requires great discipline. The fourth lesson is to hunger and thirst for righteousness. Once enlightened, we hunger for the holiness that only Christ can give in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. We thirst for His Word in the Holy Bible. We crave for the ideal to “be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” The fifth lesson is about being merciful. Both in the Old and the New Testament, God said He did not care much for sacrifices or offerings as He did for mercy. Mercy is love in action. Mercy is forgiveness from the heart. Jesus is God’s Divine Mercy.
The sixth and seventh lessons complete our transformation: we become pure of heart, and imitate Jesus as bearers of peace. And finally, if we are to follow our Lord perfectly, we must also take up our cross, and experience persecution for the sake of righteousness and the Gospel. St. Paul wrote: “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God” (1Cor.1:18).
No man can pursue two dreams or aspirations –- especially those as disparate as the temporal and spiritual – any more than one can serve two masters. Our primary goal in this life is how we can become worthy to earn the kingdom in the next life, and achieving earthly fortunes is never consonant with this primal goal. Let us practice these eight lessons, or eight steps towards perfection taught by our Lord Jesus in the Beatitudes; it is our surest way to the kingdom of God.
We thank You, Jesus for the beautiful lessons that You have taught us in Your Beatitudes. May they all live in our hearts that we may reach the perfection that You promised. Amen.
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