The Beatitudes that start the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-10) are the heart and soul of Jesus’ teachings. These are what make his teachings unique, and set him apart from all other teachers, rabbis, imams or gurus in the history of humankind.
Yet, you hear precious little about the beatitudes when you listen to preachers and tele-evangelists talk about Jesus. Why is this?
Do they regard the beatitudes of lesser importance than Armageddon, the last days, the rapture, or is it possible they don’t understand the importance of the beatitudes of Jesus and their significance in the lives of Christians?
We must not fail to appreciate the importance of the eight beatitudes in the lives of Christians for they are, indeed, the very heart and essence of Christianity.
The beatitudes are not impossible ideals, but ideal possibilities. They enlarge our perception of who we are and what we can become. Unlike the "Ten Commandments," the beatitudes are not new laws to live up to, but a new way of living beyond laws.
They are the life of faith, hope, and love laid down for us, the meat and meaning of what the reign of God is and what it is accomplishing.
In the beatitudes, Jesus speaks the language of benediction where generosity counts for more than success, where humility means more than haughtiness, where compassion is far greater than drive, where meekness is more important than haughtiness, where interdependence offers much more than self-sufficiency.
These wonderful attitudes of Christ urge us to look beyond the appearance of things in order to find real spiritual substance.
The cynic may say that only winners inherit the earth, not the meek. Or, that there is no such thing as a good looser. But this assessment of life is entirely wrong. It stops at appearances and misses the point. To be a good winner or a good loser means achieving your goals and objectives in life with integrity of spirit; by having the proper attitudes in your dealings with one another.
To appreciate the beatitudes is to accept the real substance of spiritual life. It means putting on those spiritual attitudes that change a person from within.
Jesus gave us eight glorious attitudes or beatitudes so that they would renew the human heart. Attitude is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people say or do.
It is more important than appearances, than talent, than a job. It will make or break a family, a church, a business.
The wonderful thing is that Jesus gives us the privilege of adopting the right kind of attitudes each day. We cannot change the past, we cannot alter the facts of life, and we don’t know what tomorrow might bring.
But, we can choose our attitudes and the way we conduct our lives. A healthy Christian attitude is the best thing you have going for you.
Cherish the beatitudes by the way you live.
Fr. Hugh Duffy holds a Ph.D. from the University of Hull, England. Born in Donegal, Ireland, he was ordained in 1966 in Dublin, Ireland. He is pastor emeritus of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Okeechobee, Florida, where he served for 30 years and built a new Church, debt-free, in 2013. He founded Christian Community Action (CCA) in Ireland that built housing for seniors, a sheltered workshop and bakery for people with disabilities, a community center, and an addiction treatment center. Since 2013 he has traveled across America as an Outreach Priest for Cross Catholic Outreach, Inc. Duffy’s recent book, “What is This Thing Called Faith?” is a collection of meditations with reflections for readers on the sayings of Jesus. For more of his reports — Click Here Now
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