Live the ‘Be’ attitudes. MATTHEW 5:1–12
By Natalie Jacob
Last week we celebrated the 30th Sunday of Ordinary Time and in that gospel reading from Matthew, Jesus gave us the two greatest commandments—You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind and, you must love your neighbour as yourself.
On these two commandments hang the whole Law, and the Prophets also, we are told. In other words, these two commandments are the foundation for everything else in our faith life.
This week, on the Solemnity of All Saints, we have the Beatitudes, a familiar passage to most Christians, given as part of the Sermon on the Mount.
Although these two readings come from different chapters of Matthew’s Gospel and may seem unrelated at first glance, (the Sermon on the Mount is found in Matthew chapter 5, while the Commandment challenge comes much later down in chapter 22), I propose that upon reflection, they can in fact be seen as two sides of the same coin.
If perfect love of God and love of neighbour is the goal of the Christian journey, then the Beatitudes are the roadmap toward that destination.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) tells us “The Beatitudes …shed light on the actions and attitudes characteristic of the Christian life; they are the paradoxical promises that sustain hope in the midst of tribulations” (CCC 1717). It continues, “They respond to the natural desire for happiness. This desire is of divine origin” (CCC 1718).
That is to say, the human desire to be happy is a God given one —He placed it there. Yet, the model of happiness presented in today’s gospel is contrary to what is usually communicated by the media and contrary to the secular wisdom of these times.
The world tells us happiness can be found in riches and possessions, power, and prestige, self-fulfilment. We are told that we are meant to be comfortable. In fact, a whole ‘cancel culture’ has developed around this need to secure our own happiness.
We are encouraged to cast aside anything and anyone who does not enhance our hustle or who, in our minds, steals our peace. Forgive, but don’t forget is the mantra, lest I get hurt again. If they don’t check up on me, I’m not checking on them.
Yes, these promises of Jesus are indeed countercultural and counterintuitive and truth be told, scary. Scary because they make us uncomfortable. They make us uncomfortable because they remind us that we Christians are called to a different, and a higher, standard; and this standard leaves us vulnerable.
Yet, the Beatitudes should be attitudes of every believer.
Let us choose to live fully this essence of the spiritual life. Let us happily live to Be these Attitudes:
Let us be the poor in spirit, emptying ourselves daily and embracing our need for God;
Let us be the gentle ones, choosing humble submissiveness as a reflection of love;
Let us be happy when we mourn, trusting fully that we will experience God’s comfort in our pain;
Let us hunger and thirst for righteousness, longing for God to make things new and being the hands that help bring about the Kingdom;
Let us be the merciful ones, readily extending God’s incredible mercy and compassion to others;
Let us be the pure in heart, removing all worldly attachment so as to be ready to receive God himself;
Let us be the peacemakers, bringing healing and togetherness to our families and communities, to our little corner of the world;
Let us not be afraid to be the persecuted, willingly following Jesus no matter the personal cost.
(Adapted from The Beatitude Life online picture)
I have no doubt that the saints whom we celebrate today all lived the Beatitudes. They may have struggled with them as we do today, but they persevered and now, they are part of the Heavenly Kingdom. May their example of holy living turn our thoughts to the service of God and neighbour.
Natalie Jacob is a Catechist, Lector and unapologetic advocate for Youth and Young Adult Ministry. She presently serves the Archdiocese working in the Chancellor’s Office at the Chancery.