( A commentary on Mark 5: 1-12a )
Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: “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 for 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 sons of God. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven (Matthew 5: 1-12a)
In today’s Gospel, Jesus gives us the Magna Carta of the Christian life. The Beatitudes characterize his life and the life of any true Christian who aspires to be like him.
They tell us how God sees the world. God sees as blessed those who are poor in spirit. God sees as valuable those who mourn, those who are lonely, those who are persecuted. The Beatitudes reveal that God is committed to those who are in need and those who suffer. It is because God is present to them, they are blessed. The Beatitudes do not say that it is a blessed or wonderful thing to be poor, or to be grieving, or to be persecuted.
But they do assert that whenever any of these distressful things happen to us, God comes to us. God is attracted to us because God knows our needs. Because God is present in those distressful circumstances, those who are distressed are blessed. If God is with them, God will lead those who suffer to a better place: those who mourn will be comforted; those that are lowly will inherit the land; those who are poor or persecuted will rejoice in the kingdom.
So, this is the God that the Beatitudes reveal to us: a God who lifts up the lowly, who cares for the poor, who stands with the oppressed. It is this vision of who God is that stands at the center of Jesus’ ministry and forms the heart of Jesus’ teaching.
To be a disciple of Jesus, we must be a people of hope. Because we know that when we are poor, when we are grieving, when we feel rejected or worthless or in need, God comes to us. We believe this because we know that God is close to those who are poor or in need. We believe in a God who comes to us in our struggles, a God who is with us and leads us to a place of fullness and joy. Those who follow Jesus must be people of hope because God cares for us in our need.
We must also be a caring people. If God is close to those who struggle, if God is close to those who are persecuted or in need, we must act towards them in the same way. We cannot worship God and ignore those for whom God cares. We must as followers of Jesus be people who are committed to eliminating poverty and injustice and oppression because those are the very things that our God is also committed to eliminate.
In each of these ways, Jesus beckons us “follow me!” The question for us today is whether we trust him enough to do so. To believe in Jesus means to believe in what he says. In this case, it means first to trust that following Jesus along the path of the beatitudes will truly lead us to the happiness Jesus promises and for which our hearts long. And secondly, it means to put that faith into action and follow Jesus along that challenging path. The path that leads to his kingdom.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, increase my hunger for you and show me the way that leads to everlasting peace and happiness. May I desire you above all else and find perfect joy in doing your will.”
Our daily prayer should ask Him to increase our trust in Him and to give us the grace he knows we’ll need to follow him along the path of the beatitudes. We ask him for his grace so that we may become poor in spirit, treasuring God as our greatest gift; so loving of others that we mourn whenever they suffer; meek and humble like our Master; hungry for a right relationship with Him and others; merciful and forgiving to those who have harmed us; pure in heart, so that we might see Him in everyone and everything; bearers of his peace, which is his farewell gift to the world; and willing to suffer out of love for Him, who suffered so much out of love for us. We ask him, in short, to make us men and women of the beatitudes, so that others, in seeing us, may see Him, and follow us and Him along the path of the beatitudes, which is the path that leads to happiness, the sure way that leads to the joy of heaven.