If you want to know what the beatitudes mean, look at Jesus Christ. And if you want a window into Christ, consider the beatitudes. Let us consider how Jesus embodies the beatitudes and choose to imitate Him.
Jesus is poor in spirit. Sometimes we get can proud and adore ourselves as if we were complete and self-sufficient. But Jesus, even though He was divine, never worshiped Himself. Jesus prayed every day. He depended on His Father, like a humble child, because He was poor in spirit. Do we pray every day like Him?
Jesus is a person who mourns. But what does He mourn? He mourns the sins of others and how badly lost they are. His lament is for many when He says, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how many times I yearned to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were unwilling!” Another time, He said through tears, “If… you only knew what makes for peace…” Do we know people who are far from God? When we mourn and pray for people far from God, our hearts are like the heart of Jesus.
Jesus is meek. He says so Himself, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.” As Zechariah prophesized about Him, Jesus did not enter to Jerusalem on a war horse or chariot, but meekly, on a donkey. Jesus doesn’t carry a sword, but a cross-shaped yoke. He comes not as the destroyer of nations, but as the planter of a harvest. In this way, Jesus conquered the world. Why do we think that own petty battles over matters of pride even need to be fought?
Jesus hungers and thirsts for what is right. He feels it from his gut when He says, “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!” When we see what is objectively wrong we should feel a hunger to fix it, and this hunger for righteousness should move us to action, to pray or petition, to volunteer or vote, to donate or give our witness to the truth. What wrongs do you hunger and thirst and work to have changed?
Jesus is merciful and He seeks to make peace. Jesus, as men were murdering Him in a crime that cried out for justice, pleaded to Heaven for mercy, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” Jesus says that if we show mercy, we will be shown mercy. Only if we are peacemakers, we will know peace. Do we pray for those who hate us or are not at peace with us?
Jesus is clean of heart. This means more than just being chaste. He is clean of heart because His heart is full of goodness. Jesus teaches that “from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks. A good person brings forth good out of a store of goodness, but an evil person brings forth evil out of a store of evil.” What impurities need to be scrubbed out from our hearts before we shall see God face to face?
Jesus was persecuted for the sake of righteousness, and He tells us our reward will be great if others insult us and persecute us and utter evils against us falsely because of Him. Has this ever happened to us? If not, why not? Are we too timid in bearing witness to Christ before others.
Living the beatitudes conforms us to Jesus Christ. My hope is that you will take even one thing from this homily and put it into practice in your life, for those who practice Christ’s beatitudes are promised to share His rewards.