Jesus: The Beatitude

01-29-2023Weekly ReflectionFr. Anthony Okolo, C.S.Sp, V.F.

Today’s gospel reading on the beatitudes comes from the Gospel of Matthew 5:1-12. The beatitudes appeared also in the Gospel of Luke 6:20-26. There is a slight difference between Matthew’s account and that of Luke’s. Matthew presents the sermon on the Mountain while in Luke’s it is on the plain. Another thing we may notice is that while Matthew gives us eight (8), Luke gives us four and included woes to match the corresponding beatitudes.

One other thing is that Luke’s beatitudes follows immediately after the choosing of the twelve. It is based on this, that many scholars have given other titles to this Sermon on the Mount. Some refer to it as “The Compendium of Christ’s Doctrines, others call it the Manifesto of the Kingdom, or the Magna Carta of the Kingdom.

It is good to point out that the Sermon on the Mount is not one single sermon Jesus preached on one definite situation, rather it is the summary of his consistent teaching to his disciples. The Sermon on the Mount is the opening of Jesus’ heart and mind to those men and women who were his right-hand men and women in his task. It is the concentrated memory hours of heart-to-heart communion between Jesus, the master, and his disciples. That is why at the beginning it says, “when he sat down his disciples came to him and he opened his mouth and taught them”.

The beatitudes speak of that joy which seeks us through our pain, that joy which sorrows and loss of pain and grief, are powerless to touch, that joy which shines through tears, and which nothing in life or death can take away. In Jn 16:22, “No one says Jesus can take away your joy from you”. A change in fortune, a collapse in health, the failure of plan, and the disappointment can take away the fickle joy the world can give. But the Christian has the serene and untouchable joy which comes from walking forever in the company of Jesus Christ.

It is also necessary to point out that the Sermon on the Mount or the Beatitudes is what some atheists have used against Christians by saying that religion is the opium of the people. Some have used it against Christians as saying that it is doctrine of the weak because Christ is a weakling. At the same time it is this same text that attracted Gandhi and he reproached Christians for the neglect of it. Ultimately, the beatitudes are nothing but a portrait of Christ’s own life. Jesus challenges his followers to live by God’s standard, they are truly in a fortunate state in life, no matter what their circumstances may be, for they bring a glimmer of joy and hope of the heavenly kingdom into the afflictions of the present world.