Holiness and happiness tend to go together.
We can be grateful that we have a crystal-clear road map in the Beatitudes, among the most profound teachings of Jesus Christ as recounted in the Sermon on the Mount, told in the Gospel of Matthew.
Let’s take a detailed look at these — and how they can and do help us in our daily life.
1.) “Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Although God certainly blesses and accompanies the materially impoverished, He is also yearning for a spiritual detachment and availability to do His will.
St. Mother Teresa referred to Christians as “pencils in God’s hands,” but are you willing to be a pencil? Do you allow God to sharpen your tips through daily purification and to love others through you?
2.) “Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.” God floods the hearts and souls of His faithful when they go through adversity. He lightens the load and the pain of the burden. Any of us who have lost a parent, spouse, sibling, or other close loved one know this poignantly.
3.) “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.” St. Teresa reminds us that “humility is truth,” so we should not be walking around with our heads down, feeling sorry for ourselves. But this meekness and gentleness does require a constant attitude of wanting to serve others. I was blessed to meet St. John Paul II seven times during my time in Rome in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and each time, I felt in his warm glance and pleasant disposition, he seemed to say: “How can I help you? What can I do for you?”
4.) “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.” Several years ago, one of our business leaders mentioned he was about to hire a handicapped person to fill a position in his bank. He received a lot of negative feedback from his associates, as this hiring would force the bank to install handicapped ramps and other expensive accommodations. God put this passion in his heart, and instead of choosing to look the other way and avoid conflict, he won this battle, in spite of the opposition.
5.) “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” Mercy is love, which goes beyond justice. I’ll never forget the look on my dad’s face when he pulled into our driveway one day from a long day of work at the Ford Motor Co. My friends and I were playing street hockey on our driveway, using a tennis ball and our garage as part of the playing field. The ground was wet and muddy, so this tennis ball left hundreds of brown spots all across our garage wall that my dad had just painted that past weekend.
I saw the blood rush to his face in anger and then his mercy kicked in — so grateful for this witness of understanding and goodness as a kid!
God floods the hearts and souls of His faithful when they go through adversity. He lightens the load and the pain of the burden.
6.) “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.” Aside from the literal meaning of purity (avoiding lustful thoughts and actions that can “cloud” your vision of God and your relationship with Him), there is another dimension of purity of intention. What drives your actions? Can you do household chores without declaring them a burden to those around you? Do you live for God’s glory or your own?
7.) “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.” My mom was the peace protagonist in our home when I was growing up. She diffused so many sibling conflicts and potentially explosive situations; I cannot imagine how my childhood would have been peaceful without her loving presence. Peace begins in our own hearts. Make time for Jesus, and His peace will accompany you at all times.
8.) “Blessed are they who are persecuted in the cause of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” I was amazed at how much social ridicule Tim Tebow endured for being a devout Christian during his college days and even today, as a professional baseball player. Don’t be afraid to be a “conscience reminder” for the world. God notices and that is all that matters.
In the words of C.S. Lewis, “A Christian is called to be a ‘little Christ.'”
Jesus personally embodied these eight beatitudes and showed us the pathway to holiness and happiness. Allow Him to accompany you on your journey — and trust that His incredible love will be more than enough to keep you going.
Fr. Michael Sliney is a Catholic priest based in the New York City area and an adviser to the Lumen Institute, a professional business group.