The past week, the world witnessed one of the most highly—and perhaps anxiously—anticipated inaugural addresses of an incoming US President. Inaugural addresses define the major priorities and directions, the vision and goals of the entire administration and country under the watch or term of its leader.
The Sermon on the Mount in today’s Gospel can be likened to an inaugural address. It defines the vision and goals of Christ, and it gives his team marching orders. Scripture commentators say it is also the first formation and training session Christ gives his followers.
At the same time, the Sermon on the Mount is a sort of valedictory. Many scholars believe that this was not a sermon delivered at one time, but a compilation of what Christ said throughout his ministry. It is similar to a “best of” album, but much more.
The sermon opens with the beatitudes, which are not “predictions” or promises of some future reward, but congratulatory statements for an attained and existing state. This is the awesome reality of today’s Gospel. We live as beatas/beatos. We are “blesseds.”
This gives us not just the vision of our future as followers of Christ, but it defines to us the fundamental truth of our being followers of Christ—that we are blessed. It is told to us with certainty, because the guarantee is Christ has experienced and won this truth.
The beatitudes have inspired millions of Christians through the centuries to live a life totally given in love and service in building a better world, with some offering their very own lives.
In his recent trip to Sweden, Pope Francis offered a modern version of the beatitudes. Emphasizing our call “to confront the troubles and anxieties of our age with the spirit and love of Jesus,” the Pope gives this new list of beatitudes to reinspire our living out of our faith.
I invite you to reflect on how we can live out or are living out this new list of beatitudes in our day to day life.
“Blessed are those who remain faithful while enduring evils inflicted on them by others and forgive them from their heart.” Fidelity and forgiveness—these speak of a different kind of integrity, one that remains faithful to the truth of who we are, our dignity as persons.
From our Christian faith, there are two key points about our dignity. One, we are God’s creation; two, this first truth is further enhanced by his own Beloved Son dying for us. We are at one and the same time his creation and his new creation.
Our fidelity is to the truth that Christ loved us and gave himself up for us. It is this fidelity that gives rise to the integrity that comes from forgiveness.
One of the key principles in education is that learning is best exhibited in action, the action that comes from the learning. Our fidelity to the central truth that Christ died for our sins and was raised that we may have life to the full is best expressed when we ourselves forgive others who have wronged us.
“Blessed are those who look into the eyes of the abandoned and marginalized and show them their closeness.” Compassion and solidarity with the poor who are powerless means working with them—and here I emphasize the “with.”
Solidarity with the poor
Compassion and solidarity in the world now is to be “with” the marginalized. Yes, physically being with them, but more so being with them in their hopes and dreams, in their despair and frustrations.
Clearly, this speaks of humility. The humility that we do not know that answers and that we must be with them to discover with them the path to authentic human development.
“Blessed are those who see God in every person and strive to make others also discover him.” Leading others to God is the new evangelization that shuns any hint of messianic tendencies.
“Blessed are those who protect and care for our common home.” The care for our environment has been a major thrust of Pope Francis.
“Blessed are those who renounce their own comfort in order to help others.” Together with the Pope’s championing of care for the environment is the prescription for a simpler lifestyle where one “lives simply that others may simply live.”
“Blessed are those who pray and work for full communion between Christians.” The building of Christian communities, a global human community and the Kingdom of God in our midst is both a vision and attitude of a beato/beata.
There is an underlying faith that brings Christian joy, the blessedness, the makarios to those who work for the building of God’s Kingdom here on earth. It is a joy that cannot be taken away from us. It is our constant reminder that our citizenship is in heaven.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” —CONTRIBUTED