In this weekend’s Gospel, we hear Jesus begin his Sermon on the Mount. This passage represents Jesus’ first public act of teaching outside of the walls of a synagogue. The passage is also rife with symbolism: Jesus goes up the mountain, just as Moses went up the Mountain to meet God and receive the Ten Commandments. When Jesus sits down to teach, it is an indication that he has authority to teach, which comes from God. By presenting Jesus in this way, Matthew sends a clear message that Jesus is the fulfillment of the law and the prophets.
The teachings in the Sermon on the Mount are largely moral in nature. However, before Jesus gets into the particulars of his teaching, he presents his disciples with a series of statements which reflect the ways in which a Disciple of Christ is called to live. We have come to know these statements as the Beatitudes. The Beatitudes represent a sort of vision statement for the Disciple of Christ. They teach us what the Kingdom of God is like and remind us that our task is to begin to cultivate that Kingdom here on earth.
The Beatitudes are paradoxical, in that they value characteristics that are counter-cultural in our modern world. They teach us that to be a true disciple of Christ, we cannot rely on our own strength. We need to rely on God, and to allow his grace to be at work in our lives. Living in this way helps us to cultivate the virtues that are of great importance in the Christian life, such as humility, gentleness, peacefulness, integrity, and honesty.
When we live according to the Beatitudes, it helps us to recognize that all our blessings come from God. We also recognize that God continues to bless us, even in the difficult moments of our lives. The blessings that are promised in the Beatitudes are with us now, as we go throughout our daily lives. Our challenge is to open our eyes and our hearts to see the fruit of those blessings, and to thank God for being ever-present in our lives.
This week, I invite you to spend some time in prayer with the Beatitudes, and to ask God how you can cultivate these attitudes for Christian Living in your own life. May God help you to focus on his blessings, so that you can more fully participate in the work of building up the Kingdom of God here on earth.
Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Steven Huber, CSB