The Wisdom of the Beatitudes

01-29-2023From the Pastor's DeskMonsignor Ellsworth R. Walden

Computers and cell phones are absolutely amazing. They are physical instruments that enable us to do countless things and to find more information than we would be able to find otherwise. At times they can be a curse, that is, when they are used for self pleasure or to send terrible messages to and about one another. We have smart TVs and cars that are more advanced than ever with electronic parts to actually run the car, keep us safe, and enable us to call anyone from any place.

One of the most amazing things we have in our personal lives is our faith. Guided by the gift of faith our minds, hearts, eyes, ears, and thoughts enable us to see what we could never see otherwise, to understand what we could never comprehend, and to do things with the fullest love and good possible. The Gospel for today’s Mass comes from Matthew 5:1-12 where Jesus begins the Sermon on the Mount with the Beatitudes. The Jewish people were given the Ten Commandments to enable them to live as God’s people. Moses went up the mountain at God’s invitation and was given the Ten Commandments as the foundation and bond of the relationship of the Jewish people with God. Taking the Ten Commandments to heart they lived as God’s people. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus fills out in very concrete and practical ways the depths of our own love coupled with our faith and trust in God.

“Blessed are the poor in Spirit, theirs is the Kingdom of God.” To be poor in Spirit is to recognize the richness of faith and how trusting in God and His love we are more and do more than we would ever think of doing or saying.

“Blessed are the who mourn.” We mourn the suffering and death of loved ones. And, even more, this Beatitude opens our hearts to mourn the evil that is wreaking havoc in our lives and in our world. Wherever there are suffering and injustice there is no blessing and no inner peace.

“Blessed are the meek.” To be meek is not to be a pushover but to be humble. In Numbers 12:3 Moses is described: “Now the man Moses was very humble, more than anyone else on earth.” Jesus, the Son of God humbled Himself and became one with us and of us. In Matthew 11:29 Jesus says, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves.” To be meek is to do whatever needs to be done, no matter how big or how small out of love.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, they will be satisfied.” As much as we look for justice for ourselves we cannot close our minds and hearts to those who need our help and voice.

“Blessed are the merciful, they will be shown mercy.” This very Beatitude is repeated to ourselves and to God every time we pray the Our Father and say, “And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

“Blessed are the clean or heart.” The cleanest and pure st motive we can have is to love without counting the cost or expecting a preconceived result. Jesus died on the cross out of love, hoping we will respond to His love.

“Blessed are the peacemakers.” It is all too easy to react to insults, pain, or injustice with harsh words and actions. Again, look at Jesus on the cross: “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

“Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness.” To live, speak, and witness to the truth of who we are and how we can love as God does is very challenging at times, especially when we venture into politics and see injustice, evil, and hard hearts. To be put down because of our faith in Jesus is to stand with Him and to see Him standing with us. The challenge is to be an antidote to evil, not attack evil with evil.

I close with this prayer from the Breviary: The world was created by the Word of God, re-created by his redemption, and it is continually renewed by his love.

Rejoicing in him we call out:
Renew the wonders of your love, Lord. We give thanks to God whose power is revealed in nature,
— and whose providence is revealed in history.
Renew the wonders of your love, Lord. Through your Son, the herald of reconciliation,
— the victor of the cross, free us from empty fear and hopelessness.
Renew the wonders of your love, Lord. May all those who love and pursue justice,
— work together without deceit to build a world of true peace.
Renew the wonders of your love, Lord. Be with the oppressed, free the captives, console the sorrowing, feed the hungry, strengthen the weak,
— in all people reveal the victory of your cross.
Renew the wonders of your love, Lord. After your Son’s death and burial you raised him up again in glory,
— grant that the faithful departed may live with him. Renew the wonders of your love, Lord.

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.