THE BEATITUDES 

Lesson # 10

God's Plan for a Transformed Heart and Life:

Blessed are the Persecuted

Merciful Father,

You sent Your beloved Son to suffer and to die for the salvation of mankind.  You did not send Him to do away with suffering in the world but to unite His suffering to ours so that "through His stripes we might be healed."  It is when we unite our suffering to His that our suffering is transformed and becomes redemptive suffering unto salvation.  You did not promise us that the road to eternal life would be easy, Lord, but You have promised that we would never make the journey alone so long as we unite our lives to the life of Your Son.  Send us, our Father, Your Holy Spirit to guide us in our study; we pray in the name of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

 

+ + +

 

BLESSED ARE THEY WHO ARE PERSECUTED FOR THE SAKE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

 

 To you who hear me, I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you; bless those who curse you and pray for those who maltreat you.  Luke 6:27 

 

Then he said to all, 'If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  Luke 9:23

 

In His great homily which we call the "Sermon on the Mount" Jesus calls His 1st century disciples and all Christians of every generation to live the transformed life of the New Covenant Law empowered by the supernatural grace of God the Holy Spirit filling and indwelling each believer in the New Covenant Church.  To begin our transformation we reject a proud and independent spirit and admit "poverty of spirit", yielding to the sovereignty of God and admitting that we need to depend on God in our lives. Yielding to God in "poverty of spirit" defines our relationship with God and places us before His throne.  Through our rebirth in baptism by water and the spirit He promises us an eternal inheritance in the Kingdom of Heaven.  Coming face to face with a pure and holy God we become aware of our sins.  Our natural reaction is to mourn our sins and the sins of the world with His promise to comfort us when we respond in sincere contrition, to give us the strength to resist personal sin, and the strength to stand against sin in the world.  The result is we are purified and renewed as we yield our selfish wills to the will of God working in our lives.  When in meekness and humility we yield our will to Him, He gives us dominion over the earth, an earth that no longer has power over us, and we become heirs to the earthly Kingdom, the Universal Church which has the power and dominion to bind and loose the power of sin on the earth. Now we turn from what we need to give to God to what God is going to give to us.  Our submission to His will brings about in us a hunger and thirst for righteousness; a hunger and thirst which can only be satisfied by the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus our Savior.  We eat Him but He consumes us and places in us a pure heart - His heart which cleanses us and makes us instruments of peace. As children of God we become new creatures in His image and we see the face of God in the faces of every soul we meet as we are called through the supernatural gift of God the Holy Spirit to allow our souls to be a conduit of His love flowing out to a world so desperately in need of His love.

 

Matthew 5:10-12: Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.  Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

 

If the Beatitudes are the conditions for Christian character that Jesus establishes for gaining entrance to the Kingdom of Heaven, then verses 11 and 12 are the invitation to put these spiritual precepts of the New Covenant Law into practice.

 

Question: How would you characterize Jesus' job description for a disciple? 

Answer: Short term trials followed by long very long term rewards.  Jesus is warning His disciples that they are taking their place as the successors to the holy prophets of old and that many will suffer the same fate as the Old Testament prophets, persecution, suffering and possibly death.  The man or woman who stands for God stands against the world and the world can be very unforgiving.

 

What does the Old Testament teach about the persecution of the righteous?  Please read Wisdom 2:12-24.  This passage records the accusations of the wicked against the believer who is faithful to God.  Hint: read this passage carefully; there is more to this passage that you may realize in a first reading.

Question: How does the righteous person affront the wicked?  How is it that the ways of the righteous are obnoxious to the wicked?   See verses 12-16

Answer: The actions of the righteous Covenant believer:

 

This last identifying mark of a righteous believer, that he "calls God his Father" is a very curious addition.  There are very few Old Testament passages in which an old covenant believer addresses God as Father. One exception is 1 Chronicles 29:10 in King David's prayer to God when he announced to the assembly of Israel the plans for his son Solomon to build the Temple of Yahweh in Jerusalem: Blessed may you be ,O LORD [Yahweh], God of Israel our father from eternity to eternity (also see Isaiah 63:16; 64:8; Jeremiah 3:19).  It will be the New Covenant believers to whom Jesus will give this privilege of addressing God intimately as "our Father" through our relationship to God the Son [Romans 8:14-17].  In the Gospels Jesus refers to God as "Father" at least 167 times, a scandal to the religious authorities who use this charge of "arrogance" as one of the reasons for condemning Jesus: But Jesus answered them, 'My Father is at work until now, so I am at work.'  For this reason the Jews tried all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the Sabbath but he also called God his own father, making himself equal to God. Perhaps this curious addition in Wisdom 12: 16 that he calls blest the destiny of the just and boasts that God is his Father is a key to understanding these verses in the wider context of Salvation History.

 

Question: In Wisdom 2: 17-20 what persecutions do the wicked plan to test the righteous man? Let us see whether his words be true; let us find out what will happen to him.

Answer:

 

Question: Wisdom 2:21-24 records that the wicked erred in their judgment to condemn the righteous man.  Why?

 

Question: Is this account of the desire of the wicked to destroy the righteous man a reference to all righteous men/women or is this also a foreshadowing of the persecution and suffering of one righteous man in particular?

Answer: It probably applied to all martyrs but also in particular this passage foreshadows the Passion of Christ.

 

Assignment: Please read Matthew 27:39-43 and then list the comparisons between the "righteous man" of Wisdom 2:12-24 and Jesus of Nazareth as described in the four Gospels.

Answer: Those passing by reviled him, shaking their heads and saying, 'You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself, if you are the Son of God, and come down from the cross!'  Likewise the chief priests with the scribes and elders mocked him and said, 'He saved others; he cannot save himself.  So he is the king of Israel!  Let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him.  He trusted in God; let him deliver him now if he wants him.  For he said, 'I am the Son of God' (Matthew 27:39-43)

 

The Righteous man of Wisdom 2:12-24

 

The Righteous man Jesus of Nazareth

Wisdom 2:16d: and boasts that God is his father

Jesus called God "Father" [Abba], an intimate association that was denied to Old Covenant people through the lost of divine sonship in the Fall from grace [many times including Luke 15:34; John 20:17].

 

Wisdom 2:16c: He calls blest the destiny of the just

Jesus called the righteous "blessed" in the Beatitudes and other teachings (Matthew 5:1-12, Luke 6: 20-21; etc.).

 

Wisdom 2:17-18: Let us see whether his words be true; let us find out what will happen to him.  For if the just one be the son of God, he will defend him.

God called Jesus His Son [Matthew 3:17; Mark 1:11, Luke 9:35; etc.]; Jesus called Himself God's Son [Matthew 27:43; Luke 10:22; John 10:36; 11:4; 17:1; etc] and so did the demon spirits (Matthew 8:29).  Jesus was accused by the religious authorities through false witnesses at His trial (Matthew 26:59; Mark 14:56).

 

Wisdom 2:19: With revilement and torture let us put him to the test that we may have proof of his gentleness and try his patience.

Jesus was beaten and tortured (Matthew 26:67-68; 27:26; Mark 14:65; 15:15-20;; Luke 22:63-65).

 

Wisdom 2:20: Let us condemn him to a shameful death..

Jesus was condemned to death (Matthew 27:66; Mark 15:15; Luke 23:20-25).

 

Wisdom 2:19: With revilement...let us put him to the test...

The crowd taunted to see if God would save Him (Matthew 27:39-40; Mark 15:29; Luke 23:35).

 

Wisdom 2:20-22: Let us condemn him to a shameful death; for according to his own words, God will take care of him.  [...] nor discern the innocent soul' reward.

Jesus, the innocent, suffered on the Cross, a shameful death, at the hands of the unrighteous for the sake of both the righteous and the unrighteous and His reward was the Resurrection! (Matthew 27:35-50; Mark 15:29-39; Luke 23:33-34; etc.).

 

Wisdom 2:23: For God formed man to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made him.

Jesus was begotten in the image of God and suffered, died and was buried to be resurrected to new life in order to restore us to the image of the Father in Christ (John 1:14; 18; 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9; Matthew 28:6; Mark 16:16:6; Luke 24:5-8).

 

 

Question: Why do the unrighteous hate the righteous? See Wisdom 2:23-24.

Answer: It is from envy or jealousy; a trait the unrighteous "inherit" from the devil opposed to the image of righteousness that the righteous inherit from God. 

 

Question: What does the Roman governor Pilate decide is the reason that Jesus has been handed over to the Roman authorities by and His death demanded?  See Matthew 27:15-18

Answer: "For he [Pilate] knew that it was out of envy that they had handed him [Jesus] over." Envy was also the reason for the first murder of a righteous man; envy is the reason Cain killed Abel [see Genesis 4:3-11].

 

Question: Despite the persecution the righteous may suffer, what does God promise in Wisdom 3:1-9?

Answer:

 

The rewards of living the Beatitudes are eternal but to reach that eternal reward may involve suffering.  We must be ready and willing to endure suffering for the sake of our salvation.  If God did not spare His Son or His Son's Mother suffering, why should He spare us?  According to St. Anthony: No one can enter the kingdom of heaven without being tested; it says, take away temptation and no one will be saved  (St. Anthony quoted in Sayings of the Desert Fathers, as quoted from The Beatitudes: Soundings in Christian Tradition, page 104).

 

St. Juliana of Norwich was an English nun who lived the Beatitudes through a relationship of deep, holy intimacy with her Savior.  On May 8th, 1373 when she was 30 years old she received 16 visions which she related in a book entitled Revelations of Divine Love.   In this work, sometimes entitled simply, Showings, she writes: The Trinity is our everlasting lover, our joy and our bliss, through our Lord Jesus Christ.  She also speaks of Jesus as "our clothing" in which In His love He wraps and holds us.  He enfolds us for love, and He will never let us go..., and in meditating on the passion of Christ she earnestly writes: It is my desire to suffer with Him.  In her visions she received a unique perspective through which she entered into the suffering of Jesus.  She writes: the body plenteously bleeding....the fair skin....broken full deep into the tender flesh with sharp smiting all about the sweet body.  So plenteously the hot blood ran out that there was neither seen skin nor wound, but as it were all blood.  But Juliana's visions and revelations were not without cost. Although Juliana's visions brought her deep personal intimacy with her Savior the revelation of those visions also brought her persecution from those who could not understand or comprehend this gift of intimacy.

 

Question: Do the details of St. Juliana's perspective of this vision of the Passion of Christ sound familiar?  Who is the son of the Church who displayed his vivid images of Christ's Passion through the medium of film and faced persecution from within and without the Church?

Answer: It is the same perspective Mel Gibson provided in his film, The Passion of the Christ.  Mel Gibson, like St. Juliana, has suffered persecution in sharing his intimate cinematic vision of Christ's Passion.

 

Francis of Assisi, the poor little 13th century monk who founded the Franciscan Order, on the other hand provides the spiritual revelation of a radiant life filled with a reflection of love expressed as buoyant joy as he gave up all worldly goods and concerns to follow his Savior! The only son of a very wealthy man, Francis was able, through love of Christ, to give up what the Rich Young Ruler was unable to give up, he gave up his entire self to Christ and in his discovery of the joy that comes from that abandonment to complete obedience he longed to share this joy with the world. Paul Sabatier in his biography of this great Saint wrote of St. Francis' zeal in living the blessings and promises of the Beatitudes as a missionary for Christ: Perfectly happy, he felt himself more and more impelled to bring others to share his happiness and to proclaim in the four corners of the world how he had attained it.  St. Francis called his little band of fellow monks "God's jugglers" and sent them out, all over Europe, with the task to revive the hearts of men and lead them into spiritual joy.  These Friars Minor not only preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but they sang the Gospel with joyous adoration of the Savior, it was a joyous trust which characterized their witness of the Gospel founded in lives emptied of self and lives lived through the promises of Christ. 

 

There are many examples of this joyous trust but one story includes the great saint, St. Dominic who, along with other rather critical Church leaders, had come to observe the gathering of some 5,000 poor Franciscans in an open field.  St. Francis opened the ceremonies with a stirring homily which concluded with the command that in obedience to Jesus teaching in The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:25-34 that they should not worry but trust in God: So do not worry and say, 'What are we to eat?' Or 'What are we to drink?' or 'What are we to wear?'  All these things the pagans seek.  Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.  St. Dominic and the other Church leaders were distressed by the seemingly rash command issued by Francis to these poor friars who had neither food nor shelter, nor any form of material aid.  But Dominic's distress was soon changed to amazement when within a short period of time the people from the local towns and villages began arriving with generous supplies of food and drink for the assembled monks.  A great joyous feast was the result of this abundant generosity of the townspeople.  Dominic was changed by this sign of God's providence. Humbled by the experience, the great Dominic meekly knelt before the poor, ragged little Francis and asking his forgiveness acknowledged: God is truly taking care of these holy little poor men, and I did not realize it.  Therefore I promise henceforth to observe the holy poverty of the Gospel. 

 

But this Franciscan way of "living joy" was not without cost.  It was joy that would be shaped and tempered by deep suffering and sorrow but made bearable by Christ's promise that the Kingdom of heaven would be theirs as they embraced the joy of the cross each bore for the sake of Jesus.  But the Franciscans and others like them have discovered that deep resonant joy shaped by suffering for Christ is the hallmark of holy obedience and that it is what is necessary to achieve true spirituality, not the superficial "spirituality" that comes from a "feel good" sermon or lecture, but the deep spirituality that comes from one's soul as it is transformed and united into the life of the Most Holy Trinity so that the works of God flow through the joyously transformed life of the believer.  Holiness is not marked by inaction but by the actions of God transmitted through a receptive soul to impact upon other lives.  We live the Beatitudes and the other teachings of the Sermon on the Mount into order to be transmitters of holiness who radiate God's love to the lost sheep of this world, by lives lived supernaturally through the human spirit empowered by God the Holy Spirit, and as St. Francis instructed his little monks, faithfully teaching the Gospel to everyone we meet, and only speaking when necessary!

 

We expect persecution from outside the Church but the most painful persecution is that which comes from within our own Church family. However, in those times we must ask ourselves, if we had lived at the time of Jesus of Nazareth and if we had known that Judas Iscariot was a liar and a thief even though he was part of Jesus' inner circle, would we have left Jesus?  I think our answer would have been the same answer Peter gave Jesus in John 6:67-69.

Question: What was Peter's response to Jesus in this passage?

Answer: Master, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.  We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.  And we might add, and the Church You founded is the true Church and through it because we eat Your Body in the Eucharist we are indeed Your Body in the Church and You have promised us that the gates of Hades will not prevail against it!

 

Matthew 5:10b: ... for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Question: Is this promise repeated from another blessing?

Answer: Yes, it is an exact repeat of the first beatitude.  Scholars who count the Beatitudes as a list of 7 point out that this blessing and promise is a summation of the 7 Beatitudes.  This is again the assurance of the promise of eternal life when, "by His death and Resurrection, Jesus Christ has 'opened' heaven to us" (CCC# 1025).  Also see Matthew 3:16 and CCC #536: ....  At his baptism 'the heavens were opened''the heavens that Adam's sin had closed, and the waters were sanctified by the descent of Jesus and the Spirit, a prelude to the new creation.

 

In Matthew 5:11, Jesus repeats the beatitude and changes from the third person address to the second person, Blessed are you...

 

 

BLESSED ARE YOU

 

And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna [hell].  Matthew 10:28

 

We preach Christ crucified... 1 Corinthians 1:23

 

There is no Christianity without the Cross! 

Catechism of the Catholic Church CCC# 459

 

Matthew 5:11-12: Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.  Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

In directing this blessing personally ("you") to the disciples and the Apostles, Jesus is acknowledging them as successors to the holy prophets of Yahweh who in their obedience to the will of God perished for their faithfulness.  This is a fate that will befall all of the Apostles with the exception of John Zebedee who will suffer imprisonment and other forms of persecution for his commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Jesus does not make the job description for "Emissaries [Apostolos] of God" particular appealing in this life but there can be no doubt the promise of the long term benefits are eternally great.

 

Question: St John Chrysostom points out in his homily on the Beatitudes that to receive this blessing, to be insulted or libeled by someone is not enough to qualify as religious persecution.  The blessing in Matthew 5:11 has two limitations place on it.  What are the limitations? 

Answer:

  1. When the insult is said because of one's belief in Jesus
  2. When the things for which a believer is accused of saying concerning Christ are false.

 

Question: In Matthew chapter 23:1-39 Jesus denounces the unrighteous scribes and Pharisees.  He pronounces against them seven curses in verses 13-39.   Beginning in 23:29 what did Jesus prophesy about the persecutors of the righteous?

Answer: He will send them prophets and wise men and teachers of the New Covenant Law [scribes] who they will persecute and even kill just as their ancestors persecuted and killed Yahweh's prophets.  In verse 39 Jesus pronounces that all the unrighteous deeds of previous generations will fall upon the 1st century AD generation to whom He has witnessed the Gospel of salvation.

 

Question: What does Jesus prophesy about the persecuted righteous in Matthew 24:1-31?  What is the key verse in this passage that contains the promise of a future salvation for the righteous?

Answer: Jesus warns the disciples that those who "believe in His name", meaning believer all that He has taught, will be persecuted and possibly killed but they will  receive justice in the final judgment when Jesus comes again.  The key verse is 24:13: But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved.

 

Question: In Mark 10:38 Jesus asks the brothers James and John Zebedee:  ... can you drink the cup that I drink or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized? What is this cup to which Jesus refers?

Answer: To "drink of the cup" in the metaphorical language of the Old Testament is to accept the destiny assigned by God, usually a destiny of suffering or even death.

Question: When did Jesus ask His disciples and all Christians to accept suffering for His sake?  Can you think of a specific verse?  Hint: see Matthew 10:38; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23; and 14:27.

Answer: We are commanded to "take up the cross and follow Him."  Mark 8:34-35: He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them, 'Whoever wished to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.  For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the Gospel will save it.'

 

Jesus' message is clear, to follow Christ and to do what he commands means risking everything in this present life to gain a future eternal life.  Those who refuse to "take up their cross" to follow Christ and who act for their own satisfaction and temporal gain, endanger their eternal salvation.  It is only when a person dies to self and lives for Christ that he or she unselfishly gives his or her life to God and to others whether in marriage, or in parenting, or in acts of love and charity to others.  The Christian life is based on self-denial: "There is no Christianity without the Cross!" (CCC# 459).

 

Question: In Matthew 5: 12 Jesus' urges that those persecuted should "rejoice and be glad", why?

Answer: The joy is to come not in spite of the persecution but because of it.  Even though the promised Kingdom has not yet come the faithful one who is persecuted can rejoice because the future blessing of the kingdom, also promised to the prophets of old, makes the suffering bearable.  St James, first Christian Bishop of Jerusalem in his letter to the universal Church reminds them of this promised blessing in James 5:10-11 when he wrote: Take as an example of hardship and patience, brothers, the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.  Indeed we call blessed those who have persevered.  You have heard of the perseverance of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, because 'the Lord is compassionate and merciful. 

 

The result of being a conduit of His love is that those in the world who resist His love will take their rage and hurt out on us and the only retaliation we are allowed is to mourn the sins of the world, to "turn the other cheek" and to offer the world our Christian love for His sake as a beacon of truth.  We will face persecution of the sake of our Savior but when we do He promises us that our reward will greatly outweigh our sufferings and we will claim our reward in the loving arms of our eternal Father in the Kingdom of Heaven.  When facing persecution we should remember His promises and repeat this verse of encouragement: Yahweh is my light and my salvation, whom should I fear?  Yahweh is the fortress of my life, whom should I dread? (Psalm 27:1).  Also see CCC#459; 520; 2608.

 

CONCLUSION

 

Beatitudes contain 7 or 8 [depending on how you count them] successive fundamental spiritual states that every Christian must strive to achieve. The Beatitudes must be lived fully and completely just as the 10 Commandments have to be lived in their entirety, just as all 7 of the gifts of the Holy Spirit must be claimed to be opened in our souls [Isaiah 11:1-2; CCC # 1831], and just as all 12 "fruits" of the Holy Spirit must ripen within us in order for us to bear the "good fruit" of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23; CCC# 1832).  But the Beatitudes, as the New Law of God the Holy Spirit, represents both a present and a future fulfillment.  Just as Jesus was a present reality in His Resurrection as the "firstfruit" of the Resurrection that is promised to all of us (Colossians 1:15) as a future reality, so Jesus wants us to be strengthened and encouraged by the "firstfruits" of these spiritual gifts, but the great harvest He will reap is yet to come when Christ returns to gather His elect (1 Thessalonians 4:16).  The 1st Beatitude we must achieve on this spiritual journey to heaven, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, both sets the spiritual tone of His homily and suggests the present reality. 

Question: The verb in the promise of the first beatitude is expressed in what tense?

Answer: In the present tense: theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

 

Question: The final blessing-promise, which address persecution, is expressed in what verb tense?

Answer: The promise of this Beatitude: Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, is also expressed in the present tense. 

 

Question: The other blessings all contain a verb in what tense?

Answer: In the simple future tense "they will or shall be..."  The beatitudes promise a present and a future fulfillment.  It is through the universal Catholic Church and especially the sacraments, the visible signs of God's grace given to the Church through the works of Jesus the Messiah, that our Lord and Savior blesses and encourages us in this life as we look forward to the next:

  1. It is now through the Sacrament of Baptism that we are reborn into the family of God and now receive the promise of eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven that is the first promise.
  2. It is now through the Sacrament of Reconciliation that we are comforted now in mourning for our sins
  3. It is now through yielding our lives to God in meekness and humility that we obediently follow the teachings of Mother Church, and through the Sacrament of Confirmation that we are strengthen in our struggle and place ourselves in the hands of God as Apostles for Christ and today live lives useful to ourselves, useful to our families, useful to our local communities and to the spread of the Gospel in the world when we allow the works of God to work through us.
  4. It is now through the Sacrament of the Eucharist that Christ the Righteous One gives all of Himself to us filling us with His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.
  5. It is now that through the corporal works of mercy that we are called to show the same kind of mercy and forgiveness that God has given us to everyone we meet.
  6. It is now through our self-sacrifice which yields a cleansing of our hearts that we can love with the same kind of love with which Jesus loves us and through acts of mercy we have Jesus' promise that we will see His face in every person who is hurt or suffering, and the healing of suffering is offered now to us through the Sacrament of Anointing.
  7. It is now that we are called to let "the peace of God rule in our lives" (Colossians 3:15) and to let that peace diffuse through us into the world as ministers of peace called to a royal priesthood in Christ while others of us are called to the ministerial priesthood and holy orders.
  8. And finally there is the beatitude promising persecution which may be a summation of the 7 beatitudes but is in any case clearly a present reality which promises the future reality in the glory of the Kingdom of Heaven.

 

In this call to a transformed life Jesus asks us in this earthly exile to live the spiritual reality of the beatitudes daily, to walk in His footsteps spreading His love and giving His mercy, but we must also keep our eyes on heaven for that is our future and eternal reality!

 

This last promised blessing is also a bridge to the continued teaching on living this spiritual love.  Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you,  is immediately followed by the salt and light metaphors illustrating the blessing of the spiritual fertility that comes from living the beatitudes and bearing the fruit of our faith which is the good deeds that glorify God.

 

The summation of living the Law of love on the journey to salvation and the repeat of the first promise:

 

Blessed are they (blessed are

you) who are persecuted:

we take up our crosses and

follow Jesus, committing

ourselves to everything He

has taught us' even enduring

persecution for His sakeą

but joyfully because we know

He has promised us eternal

life in our Father's Kingdom.

 

 

Per Crucem ad Lucem: Through the Cross to the Light!

 

Questions for group discussion:

Question: What advice does Jesus give concerning persecution in Luke 12:2-12?  What verse in your opinion expresses the key teaching in this discourse?

 

Question: What are some of the differences or similarities that you have noticed between the Old Covenant Law as presented in the 10 Commandments and the New Covenant Law as presented in the Beatitudes?

Answer: The 10 Commandments presents the moral law while the Beatitudes present the spiritual law.  The 10 Commandments are negative commands: You shall not, while the Beatitudes are positive statements: Blessed are the..; however, a negative is implied if the blessing is not embraced.  In both sets of the Law, the first three statements address our relationship to God, but in the Commandments the remaining commands which address our relationship to others while the remaining 4 Beatitudes move us spiritually into the life of Christ.

 

Question: Jesus' command to each faithful Christian is to take up our cross and follow Him just as he invited St. Peter in John chapter 21:18-19.  What does this command mean to you personally?

 

Question: How are you living the present reality of the Beatitudes?   Discuss them point by point.  Have you suffered persecution and injustice in your walk with Christ?  What is your advice to others who are suffering under this burden?

 

The Progression of the Beatitudes: The only ladder to heaven is the Cross.  St. Rose of Lima

                                                         continued ą

 

Merciful: when

we show our mercy

and forgiveness ą

we will be given

mercy and forgiveness

through Jesus'

perfect Sacrifice

on the Cross

 

Beatitudes contain 7 or 8 (depending on how you count them) successive fundamental spiritual states that every Christian must strive to achieve. The Beatitudes must be lived fully and completely just as the 10 Commandments have to be lived in their entirety.

                                                               

 

 

TURNING

POINT  

 

 

Hunger & thirst for

Righteousness:

seek the King of

Righteousness ą

to be filled by Christ in

the Eucharist

 

 

Meek: yield our will to God's will for our lives = renewal ą inherit "the Land", the Church; dominion to bind and loose     

 

 

 

Mourn: mourn own sins and world sin = purification ą

comfort & strength, Reconciliation      

 

 

 

Poor in spirit: those who acknowledge their  need for God ą Kingdom of Heaven = eternal life promised through Baptism and

faithfully living the Law of love on a lifetime journey of faith

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

 

                                 SUMMATION OF LIVING                                            

THE BEATITUDES:           

 

Blessed are they (blessed are you) who are persecuted: we take up our crosses and follow Jesus, committing ourselves to everything He has taught us' even enduring persecution for His sakeą but joyfully because we know He has promised us eternal life in our Father's Kingdom

 

Peacemakers: with Christ living in us we become conformed to His image of peace and loveą in the image of Christ we become divine children of His Father

 

Pure of heart: our old hearts are replaced with the pure heart of Jesus our Redeemer ą we will see God's face in the faces of everyone with whom we share His love.

 

 

Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2008 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.