Lent is upon us and Eastertide shall follow quickly. We are presented with an opportunity to encounter Jesus Christ in the truth of his teaching and the beauty of his being.
The Beatitudes are recorded in Matthew 5: 1-12. They are the pinnacle of the Lord’s teaching and a portrait of his person. We hope this brief reflection will nourish your soul and spirit.
Living Word Team
The Face of Christ
We usually consider the Beatitudes as the pinnacle of the teaching of Jesus. Jesus “climbed the mountain and opened his mouth.” They complete the teaching on Mount Sinai – the Commandments. Think of the Commandments as the “shell” and the Beatitudes as the “kernel.” The Commandments protect fundamental human values, while the Beatitudes try to form our inner, interior attitudes. They are complementary. Both are important.
However, most importantly, the Beatitudes are a “snapshot” of Jesus:
The Beatitudes depict the countenance of Jesus Christ and portray his charity (CCC 1717).
Thus there arose in the early Church a spirituality of the Holy Face and the Holy Name. Gazing on the face of Jesus Christ made him present. Reciting, in mantra fashion, the Holy Name of Jesus Christ made him present.
The Beatitudes speak of the very person of Jesus Christ and of his love. We discover here his poverty, his sorrow, his humility, his desire, his mercy, his purity, his peace, his courage, his joy.
The Teaching of Jesus Christ
Our encounter with him opens us up to receive his teaching and wisdom. We discover our calling to be another Christ in our time. We discover the essential attitudes and actions that characterise Christian life. We discover “paradoxical promises” that sustain our hope in difficult periods (CCC 1717). We come to realise that, in fact, “the Beatitudes respond to the natural desire for happiness” (CCC 1718). The Beatitudes reveal that “God calls us to his own beatitude,” a beatitude that “surpasses our understanding and powers” (CCC 1719).
Vulnerability and Confidence
During our “journey” with the Lord we come to realise, along with hosts of others, that in fact, Jesus is vulnerable and confident. Indeed, we are called to “see” our vulnerability and deepen our confidence.
For the nine beatitudes can be divided into two parts. The first three speak of vulnerability, the next six speak of confidence. We are poor in spirit. We are in deep need of God and his tender love. We do mourn. We weep over our weakness, failures, and sins. After significant life experience, we do realise that meekness and humility is the only way forward in human relationships.
This vulnerability becomes our springboard. We become quietly confident – not arrogant – in engaging others with the truth and love of Christ. We can reach out to others with our desires, mercy, purity, peace, resilience, and joy.
With this “light” shining within us, it becomes a little easier to see that the Beatitudes are the “kernel” of the Gospel. In them, we encounter the Lord and his teaching in a way that is tangible and transforming.