The Beatitudes are the promises of happiness made by Jesus to those who faithfully accept his teaching, faithfully follow his example, and actively accept and use the graces Jesus gives us to live the beatitudes. Jesus taught these beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount (read Mt. 5:3-11). They are expression of the New Covenant, where happiness is assured already in this life, provided a person totally gives himself to the imitation of Christ. The Ten Commandments are about avoiding evil actions that are hostile to love and make peaceful life on earth impossible. The Beatitudes are complementary to the Ten Commandments, calling us to be new people living in a new way. They call us to live a life far more excellent than what the Ten Commandments require. The Beatitudes are first of all portraits of Jesus Christ himself (CCC1717). Jesus tells us, “I am the way, and the truth, and the lifeâ€¦” (Jn. 14:6) In the Beatitudes, we find the grace-filled way, the truth and the life. The Beatitudes answer the universal call to holiness. If we incorporate the Beatitudes into our daily living, we become like Christ and are filled with His holiness.
Third Beatitude â€“ “Blessed are they who mourn, they shall be comforted.” (Mt. 5:5) To mourn is to express or feel grief or sorrow. Jesus mourned for Jerusalem (read Lk. 13: 34-35 and Mt. 23: 37-39). He lamented “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you slay the prophets and stone those who are sent to you. How often have I wanted to gather your children together as a mother bird collects her young under her wings, and you refused me!” (Lk. 13:34) There are a number of reasons why we Catholics should mourn with the “Man of Sorrows.” First, we should mourn because of the sorrow we caused Jesus by our sins. In Gethsemane, Jesus lamented “My heart is nearly broken with sorrow.” (Mt. 26:38) The Blessed Virgin Mary, the Woman of Sorrows, is also grieved by the sinful lives we lead. We should mourn for the sorrow we cause her. Jesus reminded us that we would be persecuted for following him. We should grieve for our persecutors’ blindness to their salvation. Another reason we should mourn is the rampant injustice that infects our world â€“ people’s inhumanity and indifference to those created in the image and likeness of God. Such injustice is contrary to God’ will. We should not become too complacent in our life that we forget to mourn as Jesus did; otherwise, Jesus will not be able to comfort us. Willingly bearing sorrow and offering it up to God in this life leads to joy in eternity.
Fourth Beatitude â€“ “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Mt. 5:6) This beatitude calls us to be on a passionate quest of God’s cause. We must thirst for justice and be on fire for the Kingdom of God. When Jesus drove out the money changers and animal sellers for profaning God’s holy temple, “His disciples recalled the words of scripture: “Zeal for your house consumes me.”” (Jn. 2: 17) Strong love makes for strong actions, and the measure of our zeal in bringing souls to know and love Christ is the measure of our love for him. Jesus clearly tells us, “You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart, with your whole soul, and with all your mind.” (Mt. 22:37) It means that we should have a burning appetite for God, a vigorous zest for God, a deep and abiding interest and enjoyment in God. Jesus too hungers and thirsts. He told us so from the Cross. It was not vinegar he thirsted for, but for people to enter his Kingdom. The Catholic soul should be apostolicâ€”loving perfection, wholeness, completeness, happiness: GOD. The Catholic soul therefore should want everyone to be God-like and God-ward.
Fifth Beatitude â€“ “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” (Mt. 5:7) Mercy is a compassion that seeks to unburden the sorrows and misery of others as if they were our own. Mercy is really a mystery. It runs counter to our sin-damaged nature. Too often we ignore or are indifferent to the sufferings of others. But Jesus was always merciful to those in sorrow or misery: to Mary Magdalen, to the woman at the well, to Peter who denied him, to Zacchaeus, and even to Judas. His parables were parables of mercy: the good Samaritan, the prodigal son, the lost sheep. The good thief on the cross is a good example of mercy extended and mercy received (read Lk. 23:39-43). The good thief showed his mercy in his concern for the selfish thief’s spiritual welfare and in his recognition of Jesus’ innocence. Jesus returned that mercy. What we overlook about this Gospel passage is that the selfish thief received no mercy. The adage “what you sow, so shall you reap” applies here. Mercy is costly. It cost God the Father his own Son on the cross and Jesus his own life. Even if it is costly to us, it is the only way to begin in trying to overcome evil and sin. God showers us with abundant graces of mercy, if only we will accept and use them as He intends.