The key to understanding the rich blessings of the Beatitudes is acknowledging our dependence on God and saying, “Yes” to Christ’s invitation to intimate, personal, loving and life-giving communion. And since the love of God embraces all of humanity, we who follow Christ are called to share in His work of salvation in a special way. Living the Beatitudes is our response to God’s divine grace in us! I offer a few thoughts here on three of my “favorites.”
Blessed are the poor in spirit. The poor in spirit are those who acknowledge their spiritual poverty and human frailty, and know how much they need the help and support of the Father. Surrendering and ‘letting go’ of those things that separate us from God’s will is never easy, and we must look to Jesus as our example of what it means to embrace the gift of spiritual poverty because it is in giving ourselves away that we truly find ourselves. We must take our hands off the steering wheel and let God drive. We must empty ourselves of sin so that God can fill us with His love. We must die to the ways of this world so that Christ can live in us.
Blessed are the pure in heart. For the pure of heart, God’s presence is all too obvious in every person and experience, and they are described as being able to see God. This Beatitude helps us to remove prejudice and bias so that we can see others the way God does. In the beginning, “the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:25). They saw each other the way God sees them; they were looking at each other through God’s eyes. When they succumbed to the enticement and temptation of sin—when they turned inward toward themselves and their own way of thinking, and away from the mind of God—“then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked” (Genesis 3:7).
Jesus, who is the Light from Light, came in response to the darkness of sin that turned our hearts away from God’s love and life. Purity of heart implies a radical change in one’s thinking; it means looking at life in a completely new way. Turning our hearts back toward the Lord is not just being sorry for past sins and resolving not to do them in the future. There has to be a complete change of direction, a deep involvement in doing God’s work—and we are still very much a work in progress!
Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. We are called to preach the Gospel in its fullness and not just the parts we like. This means that when we live our faith every day through the witness of our life – when we seek peace instead of war, when we defend the right-to-life for all human beings from the moment of conception until natural death, when we defend the dignity of marriage and family life—we will be persecuted, mocked, ridiculed, and scorned just as Christ was as He made His way to Calvary. Life is too short for us to worry about what other people think! We are called by God to be saints: to live our faith with courage and conviction in this time and in this place, and to put all our trust in God. As the Scriptures encourage us, “In God alone be at rest, my soul; for my hope comes from Him. He alone is my rock, my stronghold, my fortress; I stand firm” (Psalm 62:6-7). We are to rejoice and be glad, for our reward will be great in heaven!
In the Beatitudes, Christ reveals the kind of people we are all called to be. They form a foundation for holiness and makes clear what is expected of a follower of Jesus. All of the Beatitudes point to our participation in the kingdom of heaven here on earth: a society that functions in accord with both Natural Law and the requisite values of truth and love, of compassion and mercy, of peace and freedom—all qualities which flow from the very heart of God Himself.
Let us clean out the caverns and dark places of our lives so that Jesus may come and make his home with us. Let us get past our preoccupation with the materiality of the culture and allow God’s power and peace, God’s love and life to draw us into a place where there is nothing standing between us and Him. Let us pray that we prefer absolutely nothing to the love of Christ.
©2011 Aurem Cordis and Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers