It was Beatitudes Sunday yesterday. And I’m reading B16 (Pope Benedict XVI)’s book: Jesus of Nazareth. There’s a chapter in this book that explains about beatitudes according to Matthew and Luke. I’m gonna write some of the important key about the beatitudes summarized from B16’s book: Jesus of Nazareth.
Before the reading of beatitudes, Jesus had just chosen and called His disciples. It’s in the sermon on the mount’s talk series. He wanted this become the first thing the disciple know about following Him. Why? Read the rest of this article.
The sermon on the mount itself was actually a renewal of His promises in the old testament. He’s not cancelling the old testament, but He renewed it. He confirmed it. Then, what about the beatitudes? The beatitudes, the latin word of ‘blessing’, consist of several promises like blessed are those who poor in spirit, mourn, hunger, and thirst. Again, these words are promises. And it’s not just common promises, but it’s eschatology promises. He’s talking about the condition where His people who poor in spirit, mourn, hunger, and thirst will be comforted, will see GOD, will be satisfied, will obtain mercy. And He was talking about the new Jerusalem, Heaven. His promises is about the new Jerusalem.
The beatitudes are given by Jesus to His disciples. The beatitudes really describe the actual condition of His disciples in that time. They are poor, hungry, mourn, hated, meek, reviled, persecuted. This was stated to describe that GOD’s perspective is different to world’s perspective.
And He was describing how His disciples should be, how His disciples would live, and how His disciples will be treated. It’s about taking Christ’s cross. Therefore, the beatitudes are also about consolation. Just as St. Paul often said in his letters that following Christ is not always feels good, we do suffer, but above all, there’s happiness, there’s victory that Christ has provided for us.
Therefore, it’s very true to tell His disciples about these beatitudes, in the beginning of their journey of following Jesus. Beatitudes explains the basic matter of following Jesus. Beatitudes are also the map for the Church to walk in the Lord’s path.
Let’s check out each of the beatitudes.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is is the kingdom of heaven.”
For short, poor people, in their humble heart, are the people who are very close to GOD. They humble, they have nothing, therefore they put their only hope, only in GOD. Meanwhile, the rich, mostly think that they have power. Therefore they don’t need GOD. B16 emphasizes that in the Gospel of Luke, it’s introduced to us the term ‘poor in spirit’. It’s about spiritually poor or rich.
But however, the poor is not only about spiritual, but also about material things. People who are too attached to worldly things, tend to forget and leave GOD. Because they have been too busied with their stuffs and things. Though there’s not many, but there’s people who are called into materially poor. St. Francis of Assisi was the perfect example for this. He radically acted out the Gospel. He left all of his wealth and lived suffering for Jesus.
“Blessed are the meek: for they shall possess the land.”
The promise of the new land was the promise GOD had given to Abraham. For years the Israel wandered in the desert. The promise of the land was always conceived in their journey. In their journey, there are part of Israel who went to other gods. At last the betrayer were dead by GOD’s anger. But there were still people who held GOD’s law in their heart. They were the meek, who are said that they will posses the land.
“Blessed are they who mourn: for they shall be comforted.”
There are 2 kinds of mourning. The first is the mourn which comes from losing hope, distrust the love and truth and therefore swallow the joy of life. And the second mourn comes from the acknowledge of the truth, which tell our heart that we had been lost. It’s a mourn of repentance. It’s a mourn of our old vain life. Judas was the example of the first mourn. And Peter was the example of the second mourn. And Peter was renewed, refilled with GOD’s love, joy and spirit.
“Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill.”
The people described by this beatitude, are those who never satisfied, and always have anxieties that push them to something bigger in their life. For example like the 3 wise men from the east. The longing of truth led them to Baby Jesus. They are the people who have sensitivity to seek and to understand the sign that GOD had given to them.
“Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God.“
The organ used in seeing GOD is heart. Intellectual is not enough. To see GOD, human’s soul must be sanctified, therefore their intellectual and desire are sanctified too. The heart must be cleaned and opened to let the Spirit to take over the body, intellectual and desire. As the Psalms 24:3-4 says, “Who has the right to go up the LORD’s hill? Who may enter his holy Temple? Those who are pure in act and in thought, who do not worship idols or make false promises.”
“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.“
King Solomon was always memorized by the Israel. King Solomon’s name has a meaning : peace or ‘shalom’. For GOD said to David in 1 Chronicles 22:9, “You will have a son who will rule in peace, because I will give him peace from all his enemies. His name will be Solomon, because during his reign I will give Israel peace and security”. And on the verse 10, “He will build a temple for me. He will be my son, and I will be his father. His dynasty will rule Israel forever.” The King of the everlasting dynasty is Jesus. His Kingdom has no end. So, in this scripture, it’s said that ‘his’ name is Solomon. It refers to the new Solomon, Jesus.
This beatitude invites us to live, to love, and to be like Jesus. Therefore we could be the ‘sons of GOD’.
“Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.“
The people who suffer for justice’ sake are the people who live according to GOD’s law, according to their faith. Human being will always tend to avoid suffering, which sometimes means to avoid GOD too. Faith seems to be something contradictory to the ‘world’. For this reason, there be always persecution for those who obey their faith by the ‘world’.
This beatitude is a prophecy for the Christian. Prophecy for every Christian that they may suffer together with Christ. And also prophecy of the joy, reward for those been faithful to their faith.
Overall, that’s what B16 writes in his book. All the explanation of each beatitudes seem familiar in my personal life. To live with GOD, we suffer. We take our daily cross. When we’re hated by the unbeliever, we suppose to be happy. I think I’ve been familiar with this by reading St. Paul’s letter. St. Paul wrote a lot about this theme. But it seems that St. Paul’s writing, story, testimonial could be summarized in these beatitudes.
Wow, after reading this, I realize that the beatitudes have big and deep meaning. It might related to the old testament and GOD’s promises since the old testament. But I guess those all are explainable. I mean, it’s not hard to understand it biblically. So, the hardest part is about the ‘actio‘. The beatitudes will just be a good writing or sermon just like other poems or writings without the action and reflection that follows them.
Beatitudes describe how His disciples should be, how His disciples would live, and how His disciples will be treated. Beatitudes are a prophecy, a definition and a calling for all Christian. Every Christian is called to live out the beatitudes. To be men and women of beatitudes!
Summarized and compiled from Pope Ben XVI (B16)’s book Jesus of Nazareth — Indonesian translation : Yesus dari Nazaret