Jesus Christ gave us the Eight Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount, recorded for all posterity in the Gospel of Matthew, the first Book of the New Testament of the Bible. While the Beatitudes of Jesus provide a way of life that promises salvation, they also bring peace in the midst of our trials and tribulations on this earth. An early contemplation on the Beatitudes came from St. Gregory of Nyssa, a mystic who lived in Cappadocia in Asia Minor around 380 AD. He described the Beatitudes this way:
“Beatitude is a possession of all things held to be good,
from which nothing is absent that a good desire may want.
Perhaps the meaning of beatitude may become clearer to us
if it is compared with its opposite.
Now the opposite of beatitude is misery.
Misery means being afflicted unwillingly with painful sufferings.”
The teachings of Jesus of Nazareth were simple but unique and innovative at the time of his life on earth. The Ten Commandments, given to Moses on Mount Sinai in the Old Testament Book of Exodus, related a series of “Thou shalt not” phrases, evils one must avoid in daily life on earth.
In contrast, the message of Jesus is one of humility, charity, and brotherly love. He teaches transformation of the inner person. Jesus presents the Beatitudes in a positive sense, virtues in life which will ultimately lead to reward. Love becomes the motivation for the Christian. All of the Beatitudes have an eschatological meaning, that is, they promise us salvation – not in this world, but in the next. The Beatitudes initiate one of the main themes of Matthew’s Gospel that the Kingdom so long awaited in the Old Testament is not of this world, but of the next, the Kingdom of Heaven. While the Beatitudes of Jesus provide a way of life that promises salvation, they also bring peace in the midst of our trials and tribulations on this earth. “Poor in spirit” means to be humble. Humility is the realization that all your gifts and blessings come from the grace of God. Humility brings an openness and an inner peace, allowing one to do the will of God. It is pride, the opposite of humility, that brings misery. If we are humble and appreciate that all of our gifts and blessings come from God, we grow in love and gratitude for Jesus Christ our Savior. But this can only produce mourning and regret over our own sins and the sins of this world, for we have hurt the one who has been so good to us. One also mourns for the suffering of others. A person that is meek is one that exhibits self-control. Jesus was “meek and humble of heart” (Matthew 11:29). Justice and righteousness in the New Covenant indicate the fulfillment of God’s will in your heart and soul. It is not mere observance of the law (Matthew 5:20), but rather an expression of brotherly love (I John 3:10). “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36). Mercy is the loving disposition towards those who suffer distress. Love, compassion, and forgiveness towards a family member or neighbor will bring peace in your relationships. Moses (Exodus 33:20), John 1:18, and Paul (I Timothy 6:16) all say that no one can see God here on earth. God is hidden. But Jesus says the pure of heart shall see God! To be pure of heart means to be free of all selfish intentions and self-seeking desires. What a beautiful goal! How many times have any of us performed an act perfectly free of any personal gain? Such an act is pure love. An act of pure and selfless giving brings happiness to all. Jesus gives us peace – “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you” (John 14:27). Peace is also a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). Peacemakers not only live peaceful lives but also try to bring peace and friendship to others, and to preserve peace between God and man. Jesus said many times that those who follow Him will be persecuted. “If they persecute me, they will persecute you” (John 15:20-21). But the Lord promised those that suffer for his sake will be rewarded with the Kingdom of Heaven!
Thank you for the Beatitudes Jesus. Read the eight Beatitudes in today’s “FOOD FOR THE SOUL” Much love..