[The Beatitudes give us a list of qualities Christ wishes to see in his followers, qualities which were exemplified in his own life. A mere glance at them will convince us that they are a complete reversal of conventional standards and values]
• The world says, ‘Blessed are the rich, for they can have anything they want’. But Christ says, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit’. By ‘poor in spirit’ he means those who put their trust not in money but in God; those who realise that it is not the amount of money we possess that make us truly rich but the kind of people we are. To such as these he promises the kingdom of heaven.
• The world says, ‘Blessed are those who live it up’. But Christ says, ‘Blessed are those who mourn’. It is only those who can love who are capable of true mourning. To open one’s heart to other human beings is to share their burdens and sorrows. But to open one’s heart is to begin to live.
• The world says ‘Blessed are the tough and strong’. But Christ says, ‘Blessed are the gentle’. Gentleness is not a form of weakness as many think. It is a form of great strength. Life calls for a lot of gentleness. Think of the gentleness in the hands of a mother or a surgeon.
• The world says, ‘Blessed are those who hunger for power, status, and fame’. But Christ says, ‘Blessed are those who hunger for what is right’. To live rightly is what life is about. Those who rate this as important as eating and drinking will taste real happiness even here.
• The world says, ‘Blessed are those who show no mercy and who take no prisoners’. But Christ says, ‘Blessed are the merciful’. Happy those who make allowance for the sins of others, and whose greatness lies in their ability to forgive. They will receive God’s mercy for their own sins.
• The world says, ‘Happy those who have clean fingernails, clean teeth, and clean skins’. But Christ says, ‘Blessed are those who have clean hearts’. It is from the heart that all our thoughts, words and deeds flow. If the heart is clean, then all that flows from it will be clean - like water flowing from a unpolluted spring.
• The world says, ‘Blessed are the troublemakers and war-mongers, the activists.’ But Christ says, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers’. happy those who spread understanding among people, those who welcome the stranger, and who work for a more just society. They are true children of God.
• The world says, ‘Blessed are those who cheat and who get away with it’. But Christ says, ‘Blessed are those who make a stand for what is right’. If they suffer for their stand, the wounds they bear will be honourable wounds.
These are the things Christ said were the badges of a true disciple. They are the marks of a child of God. They make us rich in the sight of God. They are also the keys to another world - the world of Christ and his Gospel. They open our minds and hearts to a new way of seeing and judging. They give us a whole new set of bearings.
The things the Beatitudes give us in this life are very beautiful and precious - all those things which make life worthwhile, things such as peace, goodness, joy, love, compassion, mercy, gentleness, integrity, freedom of spirit. But they are only a foretaste of the good things to come.
A person who lives according tot he Beatitudes is already living in the kingdom of heaven. Eternal life will merely be the full blossoming of a plant that is green with life and health.
‘As I stand before Christ, the honours bestowed on me by others lose all value’. (Carlo Caretto). ◊◊◊