Blessed

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain,
and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.
He began to teach them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they 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 children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you
and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.
Rejoice and be glad,
for your reward will be great in heaven.
Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
(Matthew 5:1-12)

Scripture Study

5:1 on the mountain: The setting recalls the giving of the Law on Mt. Sinai (Ex 19–24). However, Moses brought the Law down the mountain to the people, whereas Jesus delivers his teaching to disciples who have come up the mountain. ● The mountain signifies the higher precepts of righteousness, for the precepts given to Israel were lower. God gave lesser laws to those requiring the bonds of fear, but higher laws to those ready to be set free by love. The higher precepts are for the kingdom of heaven, just as the lower precepts were for a kingdom on earth. he sat down: The posture of a Jewish rabbi speaking with authority (cf. 23:1–2; Jn 8:2).

5:3 the poor in spirit: Those who recognize their need for God and his grace. Unattached to this world, they find their security in the Lord and rely on his mercy rather than their merits or material wealth. The spiritually poor can also be economically poor, for these are often rich in faith (Jas 2:5). Full possession of the kingdom will be theirs at the final Judgment (Mt 25:34) (CCC 2544–47).

5:4 those who mourn: Those who lament the present state of this life. This includes weeping for sins as well as the grief that comes when the saints are made to suffer for their faith. In the life to come, they will be comforted by God, who wipes away every tear (Rev 7:17).

5:5 the meek: Those who appear powerless and insignificant in the eyes of the world. Far from being weak, however, the meek possess an inner strength to restrain anger and discouragement in the midst of adversity. Meekness is exemplified in the life of Moses (Num 12:3) and especially Jesus (11:29; 21:5). In the end, the meek will inherit the earth (or “the land” as in Ps 37:11). This refers either to heaven itself, envisioned as a new Promised Land (Heb 11:16), or to the new creation that is to come (Rom 8:21; Rev 21:1).

5:6 those who hunger and thirst: Those who yearn to live rightly according to the will of God. Their first priority is to seek the Lord’s kingdom and righteousness (6:33) as the most necessary sustenance of life (cf. Jn 4:34). Ultimately, they will be satisfied by God in eternal life (25:46).

5:7 the merciful: Those who imitate the Father’s mercy (Lk 6:36) by extending forgiveness to others (Mt 18:21–22, 33). The merciful are patient and understanding in bearing with others’ faults, and they are generous in aiding the needy by works of charity and compassion (6:2–4; 25:34–40). When the final Judgment comes, they will receive the mercy that lasts forever (6:14; Jas 2:13) (CCC 2447).

5:8 the pure in heart: Those who act with integrity and serve the Lord unselfishly. In biblical terms, the heart is the hidden center of the person where one’s thoughts, words, actions, and emotions are said to originate. A pure heart is undefiled by evil and lustful thoughts (5:27–30; 15:18–20) and finds its true treasure in heaven (6:19–21). In eternity, the pure in heart will see God as the angels do even now (18:10; 1 Cor 13:12; Rev 22:4).

5:9 the peacemakers: Those who sow peace in the world (Jas 3:18). Partly, this means striving to live at peace with others (Heb 12:14); ultimately, it means sharing the gospel so that others can be reconciled with God and live in the peace of Christ (Rom 5:1; Phil 4:7). Peacemakers will be called children of God (Mt 5:45). The gift of divine sonship is both a present possession of believers (Rom 8:14–16; 1 Jn 3:1) and a future hope linked with the resurrection of the body (Rom 8:23) and the glory of eternal life (Rev 21:7) (CCC 2305).

5:10 those who are persecuted: Those who are slandered, abused, or oppressed for their public witness to Christianity. They are targets of the world’s hatred (Jn 15:18–19) because of their commitment to the righteousness of the gospel (1 Pet 3:14). Persecuted disciples can expect a great reward in the coming kingdom of heaven (Mt 5:12).

Scripture Reflection

Friends, today in the Beatitudes we hear a series of paradoxes, surprises, and reversals. A topsy-turvy universe is being set aright. Let me propose a key for translating these beatitudes. The word found in all of them is makarios, rendered “blessed” or “happy” or perhaps even “lucky.” “Blessed are the poor in spirit…” How lucky you are if you are not addicted to material things. Here Jesus is telling us here how to realize our deepest desire, which is the desire for God.

“Blessed are they who mourn…” We might interpret it this way: “How lucky are you if you are not addicted to good feelings.” Doing the will of God sometimes involves the acceptance of enormous pain. “Blessed are the meek…” One of the greatest seductions the world holds out to us is power. But what I ought to do is eschew worldly power, so that the power of the will of God might reign in me.

Why would the Father have done such a terrible thing? Out of love. He wanted to bring the divine life even into the darkest places. He wanted to hunt us down. But notice, please, that what kept the Son tethered to the Father, even on his downward journey, was nothing other than the Holy Spirit, the love between the Father and the Son. And this is precisely why we are saved in the Holy Spirit.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

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