Be Counter-Cultural; Live the Beatitudes
Like the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes are not suggestions, but a prescribed way to live the Christian life. All eight Beatitudes are meant to be applied to the life of every Christian because they reflect what faithful discipleship looks like. If we do not see the Beatitudes as the way to true happiness, we have not understood the message of the Gospel.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of God” (Matthew 5:30).
To be poor in spirit does not necessarily mean to be materially poor. There have been many rich people who have used their resources not only for their own benefit but for the sake of others. To be poor in spirit is to recognize that all good things come from God and we must be good stewards of what we receive and to trust in his providence more than in our own resources.
“Blessed are they who mourn for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).
Perhaps one of the deepest pains we experience in this life is the loss of someone we love. Sometimes, we all will have to grieve the loss of someone we love. To mourn is a consequence of loving deeply. Even though painful, that experience is different for those who have a deep faith and draw on the grace that Jesus longs to give us. In another place, Jesus says, “Come to me all you who labor and are burdened, I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Jesus is inviting us to turn to him whenever we feel overwhelmed so that he can give us the comfort and peace that can only be found in him.
“Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).
The meek are those who endure, persevere, and do not give in to resentment and discouragement. The meek are humble and know the truth about their own dignity as a child of God. Jesus, who is God, said, “…learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart and you will find rest for yourselves.”
To be meek is to wait for the right moment to express an opinion with conviction.
“Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6).
A righteous person is one who sincerely strives to do the will of God by being faithful to what has been revealed to us through the Scriptures and the teaching authority of the Church which has been handed on to us by Jesus. To be righteous is to reflect our Christian values in the way we live our lives and treat others.
“Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7).
Mercy brings good out of evil and in a certain way mercy is a manifestation of love. We are able to love because God loved us first and when we are merciful, we participate in the mercy and love of God.
For us to have our deepest experience of love, forgiveness, and mercy we must be connected to God through prayer and the sacraments. Our willingness to cooperate with God’s grace through supernatural expressions of love, mercy, and forgiveness bears witness to our dignity as a child of God.
“Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8).
St. Paul says, “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think of these things.” (Philippians 4:8).
To be clean of heart is a consequence of longing to be close to God and a desire to overcome temptations of impurity, which has a negative impact on all our relationships. To be clean of heart requires us to protect our home, our workplace, and our relationships from impure influences, which are destructive.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Mathew 5:9).
The best way we can be peacemakers is to be ambassadors of reconciliation. In repeating the only prayer that Jesus taught us we say, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” After Jesus completed this prayer he said, “If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you, but if you do not forgive others, neither will your heavenly Father forgive you.”
Unforgiveness, bitterness, resentment, jealously, and hatred are obstacles to the peace that only Jesus can give us. That is why Jesus has given us the sacrament of reconciliation because he knows how difficult it is for us to forgive. There are some hurts so deep that people say they cannot forgive. With the help of God’s grace, we can do what we cannot do on our own. That’s why we need the sacraments. When he breathed upon the Apostles in the upper room he said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained” (John 20:23). When we confess our sins to a priest, we are confessing to Jesus, and Jesus forgives us through his priest and gives us the grace that will help us to overcome temptation. That is Jesus’ gift to us through the Church he founded.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” (Mathew 5:10).
St. Bernard says, “Every Christian who is faithful to Jesus’ teaching is in fact a martyr who reflects or acts in accordance with this Beatitude, even if he does not undergo physical death’. Our faith requires us to be counter-cultural because our culture is frequently opposed to Gospel principles. Perhaps it has never been more difficult to be a parent and a child than in these present times that support so much confusion and deviation from what has always been known as moral and right. Hundreds of years ago, St Ignatius of Antioch, a martyr said, “Christianity shows its greatness when it is hated by the world.” Certainly, that hatred is obvious in our society.
For this reason, Jesus has given us the Church and her sacraments as the source of grace we need to be heroic witnesses of what we believe. Everything that Jesus asks of us we see lived out in the saints of our Church and we have every resource that they had. The one thing that can make a difference for each of us and our families is our will to be faithful witnesses of our faith. The Venerable Fulton J. Sheen once said, “The modern atheist does not disbelieve because of his intellect, but because of his will.” The proof of God’s existence is perfect for those who seek him with a humble, contrite heart.
In our Church, we have everything we need to live our lives close to God and to reach our potential for happiness now and forever, but it will only happen if we choose to believe what God has revealed to us through the Scriptures and the Church.
Deacon Tom Fox, K.H.S. is Co-Founder & Co-Director of Pilgrim Center of Hope with his wife, Mary Jane Fox. The two left their careers after a profound conversion experience and began working full-time in ministry at their parish in 1986. After several years and having impacted tens of thousands of families, the Foxes founded Pilgrim Center of Hope in 1993 as a response to the Church’s call for a New Evangelization. Deacon Tom is an invested member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre.
Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life. See what’s happening & let us journey with you! Visit PilgrimCenterOfHope.org.
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