The Challenge of the Beatitudes
“He began to teach them.”
How do you feel when you look over the edge of a cliff or the ledge of a tall building? Do you feel dizzy? Do you feel thrilled to look out over a beautiful vista or at the tiny cars and people below? Or do you feel fear at such a great height and back away to safety? Reading the Beatitudes can make us feel much the same as being on a height with an amazing view. They are a bold challenge to our instinct for self-preservation!
Living the Beatitudes means to forget myself and live for others. This is harder than it sounds, but more rewarding than I could ever imagine. When Jesus tells his disciples, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Mt 10:39), he is summarizing the Beatitudes.
Each Beatitude calls me to lose my life in some way. To obtain the blessedness that Jesus describes I need to let go of grudges, of desiring revenge, of setting my heart on things I don’t need. I must let go of the security of being a silent bystander when others call for help or need a caring word, perhaps at the risk of being persecuted. Each one of us is called to live the Beatitudes in a unique way. I have to search my heart and find that place where I feel dizzy or faint in my spirit. That is where the Beatitudes need to take effect!
The teaching of the Beatitudes is truly Good News coming from God himself: “He began to teach them.…” Jesus is teaching us how to become fully human, in the image of our Divine Creator. When I falter before his teaching and want to back away from the view, I remember that Jesus is the Word of God and he has power to transform my inner being. By his word he can bring a beautiful creation out of the chaos of my life. In Christ, I can climb to the heights and live the Beatitudes.
Jesus, you are the Divine Teacher. You spoke the Beatitudes so they would take root in my heart, not just remain on paper. With you I desire to contemplate the heights to which the Beatitudes call me, and to experience in my life today the joy of letting go of my desires so I can live for others.
Jesus, teach me your way of truth and holiness.
Daughters of St. Paul. (2011). Ordinary Grace Weeks 1–17: Daily Gospel Reflections. (M. G. Dateno & M. L. Trouvé, Eds.) (pp. 168–169). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.