What is the significance of Jesus’ beatitudes?


It seems certain that the Beatitudes were pointed directly at the disciples…and, therefore, as Christians, they are directed at us. They are simply stated, but are profound in meaning. They guide. They point. They teach. They show us the values that Christ cares about. These values if followed can not only bring a believer into a state of peace and happiness, but also right into the Kingdom of God after our journey on this earth is over.

As you read about each of the beatitudes you might look into your own heart and examine your feelings towards them. Are you trying to follow each one of them? I think you will find that you need a rather humble, almost a childlike attitude towards each one of them if you are to be successful in following them. In fact Our Lord mentioned many times about how we needed to become more like children in our attitude and in our thinking towards many of the things in this life. Two verses in the eighteenth chapter of Matthew are good examples. Jesus addresses this question in his sermon on the mount. The heart of Jesus’ message is that we can live a very happy life. The call to holiness, to be saints who joyfully pursue God’s will for their lives, can be found in these eight beatitudes. Jesus’ beatitudes sum up our calling or vocation – to live a life of the beatitudes. The word beatitude literally means “happiness” or “blessedness”.

 

This was Jesus’ longest sermon; it was also His most important. In the Gospels, we have recorded a lot of His teachings; but the beatitudes are one unbroken tradition of eight inspirations. The disciples no longer had a place to lay their heads. They had no prestige, no job; they were opposed by the religious and civil leaders, yet they were blessed, because they were the disciples of Jesus. They heard the call and they answered, even if they didn’t yet understand what it meant.

What is the significance of Jesus’ beatitudes, and why are they so central to his teaching? The beatitudes respond to the natural desire for happiness that God has placed in every heart. They teach us the final end to which God calls us, namely the coming of God’s kingdom, the vision of God, entering into the joy of the Lord and into his rest.  Jesus’ beatitudes also confront us with decisive choices concerning the life we pursue here on earth and the use we make of the goods he puts at our disposal. God alone satisfies. The implication is that the Beatitudes are always relevant to ordinary people. The first Beatitude commends the poor in spirit, those who are not full of themselves but admit there is a gap in their lives only God can fill. Those who mourn will not only be consoled but will be strengthened by God if they turn to him. In the world of our day there is a special place for those who hunger and thirst after righteousness. Perhaps the most relevant Beatitude is the one which tells us that the pure of heart will see God. Purity of heart is nothing other than sincerity in the way we approach all our relations.

We often reject the Beatitudes on practical grounds. Few of us think we could carry them out and, if we could, what would other people think of us? Then again, if we choose to  be Jesus’ disciples, that’s what we are called to do! In the Beatitudes, Jesus gives us eight character-types of blessed people, which represent the principle graces of a Christian.

 

 

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