I have a couple of thoughts about the Gospel today (Matthew 5: 1-12). The Beatitudes are one of my favorite Gospels but also one of the most challenging Gospels for me. Often times after hearing it proclaimed I am energized yet also humbled. I am ready to encounter the world yet I am also ready to head to the confessional. I want to be a true disciple yet I know I am far from it!
Fr. James Martin, S.J. writes “What does it mean to be poor in spirit?” I must admit I have always struggle with an understanding of this first beatitude. Fr. Martin’s answer, “Poor in Spirit is to know one’s reliance on God, to understand one’s dependence on God and to grasp one’s humanity.” I guess we might say that to be “poor in spirit” is to let go and let God.
The other challenge of the beatitudes is that to live fully any one of the beatitudes, you will almost automatically begin to live them all. Perhaps to put it another way, “You can’t live just one!” In order to be a peacemaker we need to also be meek, merciful, clean of heart, righteous and poor in spirit. In order to be merciful we need to be clean of heart, meek, poor in spirit, righteous and a peacemaker. They go hand in hand.
However living the beatitudes is not easy because they will make us vulnerable to insult, persecution and the evils of our world. They will open us up to the insecurities of the world which can be troubling, harsh, insensitive and hurtful. In other words living the beatitudes can open us up to be stepped on, hurt and not valued as a person. Living the beatitudes almost always put us in tension with the ways of culture, society and the world.
Yet, in the midst of all this Jesus tells us to rejoice and be glad. The challenge of the beatitudes has been going on since the beginning of time. Women and men before us have faced the challenge and their prize, the Kingdom, await us. Perhaps all the beatitudes can really be proclaim and lived in the phrase, “Let go and let God!”
Have a great day everyone and may the Passion of Jesus Christ be always in your heart!
Father Paul Fagan, C.P