Tag Archives: beatitudes

Beatitudes

By Orlando Hernandez

In today’s Gospel (Lk 6: 20-26) we’re blessed with the “Four Beatitudes” of the Gospel of Luke. I was led to reread Max Lucado’s wonderful book “ The Applause of Heaven”, with his incredibly beautiful interpretation of the Beatitudes. Then I also read pages 70-99 in Pope Benedict XVI’s book “Jesus of Nazareth”. In these pages on the Beatitudes I always discover new treasures that lead me to the meaning of who Christ is, what our church should be about, and what Christian life always is: the unfolding of Love. I really recommend these books.

Rather than present the wonderful thoughts in these two works, I was led to view the
Gospel reading as a form of prayer, a chance for a Christian to discover what message Jesus has for him or her today. He blesses us with the grace of His words.

This is what I experienced. First, I encountered a fifth beatitude (besides the four presented in Luke). The first line in the reading is , “Raising His eyes toward His disciples Jesus said:”(v..20a). I imagine what it would have been like to have been there, and to experience those eyes, probably closed in meditation, slowly opening and looking into your heart! Sometimes prayer can be just so rewarding. My mind searches anxiously into the darkness, and suddenly a light seems to dawn, bathing my soul with a Love too great to bear! This is a blessing, a happiness, that sooner or later the Beautiful One brings to anyone who wishes to be His disciple.

Then He says: “ Blessed are you who are poor, for the Kingdom of God is yours.”( v..20b). I imagine the folks in Florida, coming out of their hot, dark houses to see the devastation outside. They look at the bright sky after the storm has left. The quality of their lives has certainly been impoverished, but they are safe! They relish in the fact of their being alive, God’s great gift, and many of us are blessed with a delightful sense of gratitude. Loved ones call from everywhere. Neighbors and volunteers are there for each other. We get a glimpse of the Kingdom of God.

Our Lord says: “Blessed are you who are hungry, for you will be satisfied.”(v..21a). What an awesome sensation, the hunger for Jesus! What an incredible gift He offers us everyday in the Eucharist. I experience this overwhelming sensation that is simultaneously physical, mental, and spiritual, this need for Him. And He gives Himself to us. Why does He love us like this?

“Blessed are you who are now weeping, for you will laugh.”(v..21b) . Father John Powers CP often says that sorrow is the flaw in love. I was remembering my friend Edith, whom we buried only last week. Her daughter had told me who that beautiful young man in that Bar Mitzvah portrait had been. In our visits Edith had never talked about him. She had lost him many years ago when he was only 20. I thought of the pain she must have carried all these years. I thought about how it would feel to lose my son, or one of my grandchildren. And I missed her. I began to cry in the most loud, unseemly way, out there alone in my backyard. It sounded like laughter, and it reminded me of the many times we had laughed together. She was a lot of fun. I know we will laugh together again.

The Lord says, “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man.”(v..22) Last Friday, at the Douglaston Center I saw the Martin Scorsese movie, “Silence”, presented by Father Robert Lauder. Being a disciple of Christ can lead to much horrible suffering and death. My discipleship has fortunately never challenged me this way. When I was young, and I had left he church, I would see Christians expressing their faith, talking to me about it. I would be respectful, but in my mind I would laugh and say, “fanatics”, “crazy hallelujahs”, or “poor deluded people”. I would feel sorry for them. Sometimes I had to tell them, “Listen, leave me alone!”.

Funny how now I am one of “those people”, and get some of my old attitude directed at me. It makes me sad, because when I “Rejoice and leap for joy” with my Sunday prayer group, I realize what they’re missing, and I pray for them.

I know that tomorrow I could read this same passage again and receive different messages, different graces, different words from the Word of God, whose love for us is inexhaustible. He pours upon us Beatitude upon Beatitude. Thank you, Beloved.

Orlando Hernandez

Blessed are the poor in spirit

There is no doubt that the poor find it easier than the rich to receive the blessing of humility; for gentleness goes with poverty just as pride more commonly goes with riches. Nevertheless,  many rich people find that their wealth does not swell them up with pride: rather, they do good and benevolent things with it. For these people the greatest treasure is what they spend in relieving the distress and hardship of others.

  In the virtue of humility people of every kind and every standing meet together, because though they differ in their means they share a common purpose. Their inequality of wealth makes no difference if they are equal in spiritual blessings.
  What kind of poverty, then, is blessed? The kind that is not in love with earthly things and does not seek worldly riches: the kind that longs to be filled with the blessings of heaven.
Pope Leo the Great

Seeing God

St. Gregory of Nyssa has a beautiful reflection in today’s readings on the beatitude, “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.”

He begins by saying that “It does not say that it is blessed to know something about the Lord God, but that it is blessed to have God within oneself. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“I do not think that this is simply intended to promise a direct vision of God if one purifies one’s soul. On the other hand, perhaps the magnificence of this saying is hinting at the same thing that is said more clearly elsewhere: The kingdom of God is within you. That is, we are to understand that by purging our souls of every illusion and every disordered affection, we will see our own beauty as an image of the divine nature.

“Our own beauty as an image of the divine nature,”

We are sharers in the divine nature. We’re not God, who is transcendent, inaccessible, beyond our minds and knowing, but we can “see” God in ourselves, our own image, as we are purified from our illusions, our sins, our disordered love. Like many early eastern theologians, Gregory appreciates the basic goodness of human nature restored by the grace of the Redeeming Christ. No demeaning of humanity here.

The saints goes on:

“And those pure in heart are blessed because, seeing their own purity, they see the archetype reflected in the image. If you see the sun in a mirror then you are not looking directly at the sky, but still you are seeing the sun just as much as someone who looks directly at it. In the same way, the Lord is saying, although you do not have the strength to withstand the direct sight of the great and inaccessible light of God, if you look within yourselves once you have returned to the grace of the image that was placed in you from the beginning, you will find in yourselves all that you seek… the sight of God.”

Going a step further, can the saint’s words apply also to creation itself? If our created world as well as our human world mirrors God, aren’t we meant to see God there too? If it is marred and disfigured by human greed and loses its place as a sacrament of God’s presence, does the beatitude about purifying the human heart also extend to renewing and purifying creation?