The word beatitude means 'supreme blessing' and Jesus recounts to us the eight Beatitudes or Supreme Blessings in His Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew. (Matt. 5: 3–11). Each one is a proverb-like proclamation, without narrative, precise, and full of meaning.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.
Blessed are those who suffer persecution for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
When in Heaven we will be children of and close to God but if we are to enjoy something of the peace of heaven in the here and now we can do so only by drawing ever closer to God. And with that in mind Jesus taught the Beatitudes to reveal to us how we can begin to enjoy the peace of Heaven whilst we are still in the here and now by coming to know some of that which lies at the heart of God. In the Beatitudes, Jesus is exalting certain values and attitudes and telling us that if and when we possess these we will be close to God and will have His Divine Blessing.
If we truly want to know at least some of that which lives in the heart of God then we need look no further than the Beatitudes and then, knowing more of what the heart of God is like, we are invited to emulate those qualities to become more like God ourselves and to reflect the goodness, beauty and truth that lives in His heart.
It is a sad truth that the qualities and virtues praised in the Beatitudes are in many ways diametrically opposed to those exalted and practised in the world and that in turn tells us just how far the world is from the heart of God.
What Jesus outlines to us in the Beatitudes are the virtues of humility, charity, and brotherly love but above all they teach the need for a transformation of our inner self. Jesus presents the Beatitudes in a positive sense as those virtues in life which will ultimately lead to reward.
Whilst the Beatitudes of Jesus provide a way of life that promises our eventual salvation, if embraced now, in this life, they also provide a promise of peace in the midst of our turbulent trials and tribulations whilst here on this earth.
The Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu succinctly observed that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step so let us now turn and begin to live the sublime ethics of the Beatitudes, taking that first step on the journey which will ultimately take us deep into the loving and always welcoming heart of God.
Not easy; but the rewards are far beyond human calculation.
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