By Lenora Grimaud

The “Beatitudes” reflect the image of Jesus, and the kind of life he would live on earth. Jesus chose to become human—to be like us in all things except for sin: His state was divine, yet he did not cling to his equality with God but emptied himself to assume the condition of a slave, and became as men are; and being as all men are, he was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross (Phil. 2:6-8). Because he chose to become human, he also willingly accepted death on a cross. He said: The Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me; I lay it down of my own free will, and as it is in my power to lay it down, so it is in my power to take it up again (John 10:17-18).

The greatest act of God’s love was not that he died for us, but that he chose to be incarnated—to be with us—to share in all that human beings experience. In choosing to be like us, he refused to use his divine power to avoid death on a cross. Death of the body is part of what it means to be human. The last enemy of God is not death of the body, but death of the soul—the loss of consciousness of God and his love for us.

Because of sin and evil in the world, the innocent—the poor—the little ones—are persecuted and often even killed by the not so innocent. Perhaps this is because the innocent are like mirrors that not only reflect God, but they also mirror the image of those who look upon them. Because Jesus was the perfect image of God—holy and free of sin—it was inevitable that he would reflect the truth and evil would seek to destroy him. God knew this before he chose to become human.

The power of the Holy Spirit delivers us from sin and enables us to experience the mercy and forgiveness of God. The Holy Spirit enables us to forgive others and to be merciful. The Holy Spirit enables us to love as God loves us. Jesus had to die a mortal death, like all of us, and rise from the dead. He had to return to the Father in order to send us the Holy Spirit—his spirit.

All humans are called to accept and carry their own cross—Jesus said: If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me (Mat. 16:24). To me, this means that God is calling us to be like him—to be free from sin—holy, poor, little, and humble; and to accept the consequences of that holiness. He is calling us to accept all that life brings us—our strengths and our weaknesses, our power and our limitations, our gifts and our losses. He is calling us to be with him as he is with us—for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad—until death.

Jesus is not calling us to seek or look for suffering and death—He came to give us life. He is not calling us to run away from suffering, either. He is not calling us to sacrifice our life, but to live it fully for the glory of God. He is not calling us to be him, but to be our own true self—in union with him. God did not come to clone us into a copy of Jesus Christ, his Son. He came to enable us to be who he created us to be, in his divine image and likeness. He did not come to separate our body from my spirit (soul) but to integrate them and make us whole. He is calling us to love as he loved. It is impossible to love without suffering the rejection of our love from others, at least sometimes. Love is unconditional and sacrificial—giving ourselves away. The cross that Jesus asks us to carry is to embrace the “Beatitudes:”

Blessed are the poor in spirit: theirs is the kingdom of God—This is also the first step of Alcoholics Anonymous, and why it has been so successful: “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.” Poverty of spirit is to recognize that we are powerless over sin (disorder) in our life, and that without God our life is unmanageable, and will lead to death; it is to hunger for God, to be needy, to be vulnerable, to be powerless—to acknowledge our powerlessness. Poverty is total dependence on God for everything—to be detached from everything that is temporal, possessing nothing of our own, clinging to nothing, except for God.

Blessed are the gentle [meek]: they shall have the earth for their heritage—To be gentle is to be child-like, open, humble, teachable, docile, bending, accepting, yielding, movable—not proud, arrogant, rigid, stubborn, or stuck in our own space.

Blessed are those who mourn: they shall be comforted—To be repentant—sorrowful for sin—desiring reconciliation; hunger for God, for union, for wholeness; in need of comfort and love. To mourn is to be grieving a great loss; to mourn the loss of goodness in ourselves and others; to share in the losses of others—to suffer with them—empathy and compassion.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for what is right: they shall be satisfied—This is to desire goodness—a love and desire for virtue, holiness, truth, and God’s will to be done; to hunger for God’s will; to hunger and thirst—yearn to love God and others—to serve God and others.

Blessed are the merciful: they shall have mercy shown them—This is to forgive everyone who has ever hurt or offended us in any way; to desire their wellbeing—desiring mercy and good for them; to pray for them—to let go of resentment, bitterness, hatred, anger, and the desire for revenge; to be non-judgmental, and to rejoice when others are forgiven or blessed. To be merciful is to love, unconditionally.

Blessed are the pure in heart: they shall see God—This is to be naked before God—to bear our heart and soul to God; to be humble—knowing who we are and who God is; to have pure intentions—without malice or manipulation—to be unselfish; to be real and authentic—free of the false self; to be honest and truthful—without denial, masks, deception, pretense, guile, and manipulation—what you see is what you get; to be child-like—dependent on God

Blessed are the Peacemakers: they shall be called sons of God—This means that we desire relationship with God and mankind; we desire unity, peace, and harmony—communion, community, and universal brotherhood. It means that we are willing to make amends—to do penance. Peacemakers strive to reconcile everyone—to end war and violence.

Blessed are those who are persecuted in the cause of right: theirs is the kingdom of heaven—This requires faithfulness, trust in God, readiness to take risks—to take a stand for truth and justice, loyalty, and fidelity. It is the willingness to suffer rejection, shame, persecution, and even death for the sake of the kingdom of God—to be a witness for God and his kingdom. It is to suffer for faith, hope, and love.

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