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Chapter 19

The Beatitudes
(Part I)

 

You cannot attain to charity except through humility.
—St. Augustine

 

 

The journey from spiritual slavery to “the glorious freedom of the children of God” passes through the eight Beatitudes of the Gospel. (Rom. 8:21)  It begins with humility and meekness, love of God and neighbor.  “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. 5:3)  The humble or “poor in spirit” are “rich in what matters to God.” (Luke 12:21)  Like Christ Jesus who “emptied himself, taking the form of a servant,” and who “humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death,” they empty themselves of pride and vanity, of selfishness and sin, becoming obedient to God’s will unto the death of the “old man.” (Phil. 2:7-8)  What Christ did in His exterior life, having no sin, they do in their interior life, being full of sin.  Then, they too are “highly exalted,” even to the heights of heaven, if they remain poor in spirit. (Phil. 2:9)

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. (Matt. 5:4)  Meekness is humility in relation to other people.  Just as humility leads to love of God and gives us heaven, so meekness leads to love of neighbor and gives us earth.  Here is another reason why it is good to pray The Four Step Prayer in The Way of Christ every day.

Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. (Matt. 5:5)  We mourn for our sins because they are obstacles to true love.  The more our soul is full of selfishness and sin, the more empty it is of God and His grace.  In The Way of Christ we learn how to recognize sin and to offer it up, so that God can “take it and replace it with the opposite virtue.”  We are spiritually “comforted” by the virtues, even as we are made sad by our sins.  As Catholics, we are also “comforted” by God in the Sacrament of Confession when we confess our sins and receive absolution.

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.(Matt. 5:6)  Once we have become empty of vice to some degree, we can be “filled” with Jesus Christ, commensurately.  As Christians, we “hunger and thirst” for Him.  “I am the bread of life; he who comes to me will not be hungry, and he who believes in me will never thirst (when united to Christ fully).” (John 6:35)  Whenever we hunger and thirst for righteousness,” for doing what is right, for doing the will of God, and strive to carry that out, we are “filled with the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and His Divine Life—“grace upon grace”—to an ever greater degree. (John 1:16)  “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me, and to complete His work.” (John 4:34)  We “complete His work” when we act in cooperation with the grace God gives us to fulfill His will.  For Catholics, this includes the sacraments by which we receive “of His fullness, grace upon grace.”  Indeed, we receive and are “filled” with the fullness of Him Who is “full of grace and truth”—Jesus Christ—in the Holy Eucharist. (John 1:16,14)

 

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