Wednesday, February 3, 2010


If you are following along on Memory Mondays then you know we are memorizing the first two Beatitudes this week.
Matthew 5:3-4
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

You may alread know all of the Beatitudes. (I get them all jumbled together. That's why I've decided I need to purposefully memorize them correctly.) If you don't know them you probably know which verses are refered to when you hear the word "Beatitude." But do you know why they are called that?

Beatitude is from the Latin word "beatus" meaning "blessed." The Beatitudes were a big contrast to the thinking of the day in Jesus' time - and for that matter our times too. For example, being "poor in spirit" is not something Americans care to aspire to. Humility is seen as a weakness. So Jesus' words contradict our culture and challenge us to look at life and live life differently.
Painting by Paul Gustave Dore 1865

I really like the commentary found here Beatitude Commentary from JesusChrist I'm quoting this site here. I think it will help you begin to grasp the deep truths found in these verses. Here is the commentary on the two we are memorizing this week.

"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

"Poor in spirit" means to be humble. Humility is the realization that all your gifts and blessings come from the grace of God. To have poverty of spirit means to be completely empty and open to the Word of God. When we are an empty cup and devoid of pride, we are humble. Humility brings an openness and an inner peace, allowing one to do the will of God. He who humbles himself is able to accept our frail nature, to repent, and to allow the grace of God to lead us to Conversion.

It is pride, the opposite of humility, that brings misery. For pride brings anger and the seeking of revenge, especially when one is offended. If every man were humble and poor in spirit, there would be no war!

"Blessed are those who mourn,
for they shall be comforted."

If we are humble and appreciate that all of our gifts and blessings come from God, we grow in love and gratitude for Jesus Christ our Savior. But this can only produce mourning and regret over our own sins and the sins of this world, for we have hurt the one who has been so good to us. One also mourns for the suffering of others.

St. Gregory describes another reason to mourn: the more one ascends in meditation of Divine Truth, Beauty, and Goodness, and then realize the poverty of human nature, man can only be left in sorrow. When one contemplates that we were made in the image and likeness of God and lived in Paradise, the Garden of Eden, and compare that to our present state after the Fall, one can only mourn our present condition. But the sentence continues that they shall be comforted, by the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, and hopefully one day in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Mourning in this context is called a blessing, because mourning our fallen nature creates in us a desire to improve ourselves and to do what is right!

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