The Beatitudes Respond to the Natural Desire for Happiness

The Beatitudes Blessed are the MercifulThe Gospel reading for mass today is about the Beatitudes:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that:

“The Beatitudes respond to the natural desire for happiness.  This desire is of divine origin:  God placed it in the human heart in order to draw man to the One who alone can fulfill it.  We all want to live happily; in the whole human race there is no one who does not assent to this proposition, even before it is fully articulated.  How is it, then, that I seek you, Lord? Since in seeking you, my God, I seek a happy life, let me seek you so that my soul may live, for my body draws life from my soul and my soul draws life from you. God alone satisfies.”  cc:1718

A lot of Catholics read every one of the nine beatitudes, a single verse at a time. When they are sad, they remember the first Beatitude. When they forgive someone, they hope that they will be forgiven too. When people seek to resolve an argument, they become peacemakers.

Individually, there is a lot of wiggle room in how we interpret the Beatitudes though.  The Beatitudes were not given to us by Jesus in order to justify sadness, grief, subservient lives, to judge the impure lives of others, to tolerate crime, seek to be more spiritually advanced than others, or to tolerate evil for the sake of peace.

The Beatitudes were given to us by Jesus Christ, because he loves us and understands the sufferings that we all go through in our lives. People lose hope so easily when we are in the middle of suffering and Christ shows us that things are not always what they seem to be when we are undergoing various trials our lives. There is hope for our future, that things will not always be what they are right now, when we are suffering. Jesus explains to us that we should look to the future with hope, no matter how bleak the circumstances of our lives can seem at times. When we do the right things in life, it can sometimes cause us to suffer, but we should take heart because good will come from the sufferings we endure, if we trust in him.

God also gave us these sufferings that we may come to know him more deeply. When things go well in life we do not seek God out in prayer as much, because we are doing just fine on our own and do not need really need Him very much.  It is only when we have troubles that we turn to Him in earnest, because we have discovered what is not of God.  We crave God’s goodness.  The lack of God’s goodness in our lives, or in the world we live in, can cause us to turn to Him, and depend on God alone, rather than the things and people around us.

The catechism said this about the Beatitudes “How is it, then, that I seek you, Lord? Since in seeking you, my God, I seek a happy life, let me seek you so that my soul may live, for my body draws life from my soul and my soul draws life from you.”

“God alone satisfies.”  Eventually, we all come to this conclusion in our own way, if we remain faithful to Him throughout our lives.  We love our family and our friends very much, and their love is a very major part of our lives too.  However, every human being has emotions that fluctuate from moment to moment.  What they want in the morning could be a totally different thing by the end of the  day, next week, or next year.

Sometimes people are there for us, and sometimes they are nowhere to be found when we really need them.  Our spouses, best friends, family, coworkers, etc. are not always there for us and will sometimes let us down.  But God never does.  That is a hard thing to really understand sometimes, that the only one we can really depend on is God alone.  So much of our misery and suffering, is when we try to find all our happiness in one person, or our family, or friendships, or work, etc.  No one can be expected to be there for us every single moment of the day, and fulfill all our needs and make us happy.  We were not designed that way.  There is a place inside of us that only God can fill.

If you ever feel like something is missing in your life, that there must be something more to life … there is.  God.  Really.  He can fill all the empty places inside of us, if we will remain open to His grace, and get to know Him more personally, through a regular prayer life.  And Jesus, will journey with us every single day of our lives, for the rest of our lives.  Even when our lives change drastically, he never will.

 

 

 

Daily Mass Readings:

Kings 17: 1-6 / Psalm 121 / Matthew 5: 1-12

About the Author

Welcome to A Catholic Moment! My name is Laura Kazlas and I’m the creator and founder of A Catholic Moment. Catholics read a lot of different things on the internet these days, but this website is a place for Catholics to read, reflect, and discuss the daily readings for Mass. Our website is run entirely by a group of volunteer writers who have a genuine love for the scriptures that we have for Mass each day. I was personally raised by atheists, but came to believe in God and was baptized because of the words in sacred scripture. I later became a Catholic because of the Mass. The first time my husband took me to Mass, I thought it was the most holy, beautiful sense of worshiping God that I had ever experienced. I still do. My husband John and I have been married for 30 years. We have a son, a daughter, two granddaughters, and a cat. I currently serve as the coordinator of Catholic prison ministry in the Archdiocese of Portland Oregon, in the USA.

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2 Comments

  1. God bless you Laura! You speak as a person who has all these feelings you speak of. You are so easily understood and make these beatitudes more meaningful to me. Love to you.

  2. I’m glad you are still here, Helen. Your words are very kind. They encourage me to keep writing, even though some days are better than others. Love to you too, for your kindness and your encouraging words.

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