the beatitudes–are you happy?

the beatitudes in matthew 5: 1-12 are the central teaching of jesus as they relate to the reign of God. so why don’t christians reference them more often?

i have seen english translations that use blessed or fortunate or happy in this section. which is it? since i am too lazy right now to dig into the greek, i respond “yes”. we are blessed/fortunate/happy when we embrace the beatitudes. since they are experiences of life, they are more difficult for us to interpret. these blessings are the stuff of our lives and to wrestle well with their meaning enlightens what it means to be “happy”.

in religious education for children, it is foundational to have them memorize the ten commandments. at first glance, the prescriptive nature of the ten commandments lends itself to the voice of God’s authority: do this, don’t do that.

easy, no? no. okay for children, not for adults who experience the surprises of life in the world.

the deeper we unpack the ten commandments, they might even be more complicated than the beatitudes. when was the last discussion you had with someone who talked about their regret for coveting?

teachers of the faith are more comfortable saying do this don’t do that. we are less comfortable diving into the meaning of our experience. the beatitudes are an invitation for us to share our hearts and lives. to ponder the beatitudes is to embrace how we have been hurt. to reflect on the beatitudes is to be reminded what it means to be human. to live the beatitudes means that we have to trust in God’s promises/grace/love.

in planning the celebration of one’s life/death, the beatitudes are the first among the choices for the gospel reading at a funeral mass. whenever i have proclaimed this scripture at mass– especially a funeral mass– there is a powerful holiness in the air. in our gut, we realize the sacred nature of these promises of God. when we hear this gospel with others, we can sense our common humanity in these common, shared experiences.

i look forward to this sunday’s celebration of all saints day since the beatitudes are always the gospel reading. so these are the my current musings in question form…

why are the first and last beatitudes written in the present tense? how are blessed when we are poor in spirit; how are we are fortunate when we are being harmed? here? now? how is God’s reign related to this in the present?

how difficult is it to live with the promise of happiness/blessedness in all the other beatitudes?

what does it mean to be meek in a world that stomps on this (seeming) weakness? how is this attractive to those who follow jesus?

how do we mourn together? how am i mourning now?

do i really desire justice? what is righteousness?

where is my heart on the purity scale? is “being pure” a red flag word that really means something other than my caricature?

do i see myself as a peacemaker? what are the consequences? does my being a daughter or son of God depend on being a peacemaker?

how do i respond to being hurt, abused, or the object of mean, ugly words? does this beatitude relate to jesus’ teaching of love of enemy?

how does the collective nature of the beatitudes relate to the theme of the kingdom/reign of God? how do the beatitudes shine light on what it means to love God and others?

do i really want to be “happy”? how blessed am i right now? do i or other people define my primary happiness?

Holy Spirit, give me the grace to understand better and embrace more faithfully the beatitudes in my life– i do want your blessings

more to come on sunday…


  1. Thanks for the great reflection. I always think of that song “Whatsoever you do” (to the least of my people, that you do unto me). I think it is related. But that’s how I try to live my life Not easy, but you know “life goals”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. frarthurcmf says:

      yes– that song is matthew 25: 31ff. the heart of eucharist: seeing christ’s presence in others

      Liked by 1 person

  2. DC says:

    Diving into our experience. Awesome line an even better practice. Yup.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. lupe flores says:

    You made my day. I needed these words of wisdom. It makes me reflect on who I am and how I want to be and how does God want me to be.


    1. frarthurcmf says:

      amen lupe! Godspeed to you always


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