November 1, 2008
Matthew 5: 1-12a
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught 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 filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Introductory Prayer: Lord, recognizing your complete dominion over my life, I place myself in your presence. I believe you are my Lord and God. I hope in the power of your grace working in my life and in the eternity you have prepared for me. I love you for your many blessings and gifts. Help me to love you worthily in return. Without you I can do nothing, so come to my aid today.
Petition: Lord Jesus, help me to assimilate the beatitudes into my daily living so that I may become a greater witness to you.
1. Where Do My Values Rank?
Each one of the beatitudes is a challenge that turns the world’s values upside down. They are an invitation to reflect on where our values lie. If we set our hearts on and put our energies in the world’s values (avarice, gluttony and self-indulgence, superficial joy and amusement, vanity) we might obtain them for a while, but they will never last or ever satisfy us. If we set our heart on and put our energy into pleasing our Creator and following Christ, even though we may have all kinds of trouble, our happiness will be lasting. With Christ’s coming, human values were included in the plan of our redemption and so were promoted and transformed. Christianity does not suppress or underrate human values, but rather, it gives them a new direction and a new spirit and meaning. From these arise the Christian values that Christ handed on to us in his Gospel message. The beatitudes offer us an X-ray of what the heart of a person centered on the Gospel should be: poor in spirit, meek, merciful, pure, seeking justice and peace, and patient amidst persecution.
2. Where Do I Seek Happiness?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church in Number 1717 tells us the beatitudes respond to the natural desire for happiness. This desire is of divine origin. God has placed it in the human heart in order to draw man to the One who alone can fulfill it. St. Augustine writes, “How is it, then, that I seek you, Lord? Since in seeking you, my God, I seek a happy life, let me seek you so that my soul may live, for my body draws life from you” (Confessions 10, 20). Only in prayer can I set my heart on Christ and the beatitude he has prepared for us. Mary is the example of one who reflected on and lived the beatitudes perfectly.
3. Road to Eternity
Jesus clarifies the idea of holiness and eternal life by pointing out the way that leads to it. The starting point is our own human condition, in which suffering is not a chance occurrence, but rather a reality connected with the very structure of life. Jesus did not come to do away with suffering, but to redeem it by making it a means of salvation and eternal happiness. Poverty, afflictions, injustices, and persecutions do not demean, but rather ennoble and purify, when they are accepted by a heart that is humble and submissive to God’s will, a heart that has the serenity that comes from faith in him and desires to share in Christ’s passion. They make us like the suffering Savior and, therefore, worthy of sharing in his glory. This does not mean we do not try to defend ourselves or prevent – as far as possible – these evils, but if they happen we can use them to our advantage.
Conversation with Christ: Lord, help me to live the beatitudes today and to see with the eyes of faith the happiness they bring. Help me to take advantage of all the suffering that may come my way so as to convert it into a great source of grace. Even though I feel incapable of living these ideals by my own effort, I have great confidence in your grace.
Resolution: I will choose one of the beatitudes and put a special effort into living it today.
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