Last year we had the opportunity to visit the Holy Land. This photo was taken On the Mount of the Beatitudes and was a beautiful early morning in November just before all the other pilgrims arrived. I felt very happy and blessed to be there and to soak up the prayerful atmosphere.
These are the words of the Beatitudes placed on the walk way approaching the church of the Beatitudes as a reminder of the words that Jesus spoke.
God created us to be happy. But how do we pursue that real happiness? By reading one of the many self-help books? By accumulating wealth? By seeking pleasure? By yearning for power? By desiring honour? These are the worldly desires that we may replace God with, as St. Thomas Aquinas says, but Jesus reveals different be-attitudes. Jesus is the happiest man that ever lived. He gives us his eight paths to happiness, to dwell in his divine life. He reveals his character as the ideal for us to imitate as he leads us to the Father; the only sure way to everlasting happiness and Joy.
Seeing the crowds, Jesus went up the hill. There he sat down and was joined by his disciples. Then he began to speak. This is what he taught them:
‘How happy are the poor in spirit; theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
It’s not about wanting to be poor but about being detached from wealth, riches and material goods. Being poor in spirit is about my reliance on God. Knowing who I am in relation to God the Creator. That I need God and can nothing apart from him. If I rely on material goods then I’m less likely to rely on God. If I are materially poor then I certainly know how much I need to rely on God and his bounty. If I am wealthy I know that I have a duty to share what I have with the poor. My possessions are not who I really am-they are a false identity. I am unique and God loves me and wants me to love in return and other stuff just gets in the way.
Happy the gentle: they shall have the earth for their heritage.
This is not about easily lead, meak and mild. This is about being happy if I’m detached from power. I should seek God first and then I’ll know how to use power.
Happy those who mourn:they shall be comforted.
This is not about keeping me unhappy. If I am always seeking pleasure I won’t be happy because I am not seeking God. I need to be detached from pleasure so that I can be free to do what God asks of me even though it may not be pleasurable.
Happy those who hunger and thirst for what is right: they shall be satisfied.
Am I satisfied with my life? What do I really crave? What is my ultimate desire? What do I hunger and thirst for? Do I listen to the media and advertising to tell me what I really need? I need to be focused on God’s will in my life then I will be satisfied.
Happy the merciful: they shall have mercy shown them.
God is all Mercy – He is Love. When I accept mercy and love in my life the more I can give. The more I give away the more I receive. I need to change my judgmental attitudes into loving merciful attitudes showing compassion to all I meet. For as God forgives me so must I forgive those who sin against me.
Happy the pure in heart:they shall see God.
My heart is the centre of my being. Where is my heart focused? On passing things? How many things? I need to be focused on one thing- purely God and his merciful love. And passing things won’t affect my heart, my focus, my love because I am routed in the Creator of the universe-what have I to fear? ‘There is no fear in love’. 1 John 4:18
Happy the peacemakers:they shall be called sons of God.
Am I held back with my fears, my hurt feelings, my ego? Then I can’t radiate peace. My inner peace is disturbed and I radiate that in my actions. If I am centred on God, the fount of love and mercy, I will possess peace, it will flow like a river. What I receive I will give. I will be a peacemaker and I will be blessed.
Happy those who are persecuted in the cause of right: theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Do I crave honour? Am I attatched to the approval of others? Do I like to be liked? Can I speak for those who have no voice and talk the truth lovingly and gently even though it may be uncomfortable? Can I make Christ’s values my own? Can I decide between getting along with the world and being persecuted for Christ?
Happy are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.
I desire to be happy like you Jesus. Thank you for making me unique. You see beyond my possessions, the esteem I achieve, the fullness of my pride, the honours I receive. Thank you for teaching me through the example of your life. Give me the grace to make your Beatitudes my own standards for my life. May I experience blessedness here on earth and may it be completed in heaven.