Sermon on the Mount
Stained Glass Windows – St. Vincent de Paul Chapel, St. Louis, MO
This is the first of a two-part series studying the lessons from Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount,” commonly known as the “Beatitudes” (Mt 5:3-10). The Sermon on the Mount challenges us to live in heartfelt obedience to God’s commands. The Beatitudes tell us how to be blessed. This is more than a sense of happiness. It is an experience of hope and joy independent of circumstances, because we are focused on our eternal home in heaven. This hope and joy, the highest form of happiness, can only be found in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
For each Beatitude, we will focus on God’s promise, cite an Old Testament Scripture reference prefiguring the Beatitude, the opposing worldview and a Scripture reference on how to live it out the Beatitude. The best example of living the Beatitudes is found in Jesus. If our goal is to be more Christ-like in our marriages and in our families, the Beatitudes should challenge us in how we live each day.
This week, we will look at the first four beatitudes: Poor in Spirit (Mt 5:3), Mourning (Mt 5:4), Meekness (Mt 5:5) and Righteousness (Mt 5:6). Next week, we will look at the last four Beatitudes: Mercy (Mt 5:7), the Pure in Heart (Mt 5:8), the Peacemaker (Mt 5:9) and the Persecuted (Mt 5:10).
Beatitude #1 – Poor in Spirit
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3
God promises the kingdom of heaven to the poor in spirit, the contrite of heart. The world, in contrast, honors pride and personal achievement as the symbols of success. Scripture cautions that “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prv 16:18). How true this is in families. We have heard it said “There are those who are humble, and those about to be humbled.” Marriage and parenting keeps us humble because it has a way of exposing our weaknesses. God blesses the humble.
For thus says the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite. Isaiah 57:15
To develop this attitude, draw close to God in humbleness of spirit. He will revive your soul.
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you men of double mind. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to dejection. Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you. James 4:7-10
Beatitude #2 – Mourning
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:4
God promises comfort to those who mourn. The world, in contrast, honors pleasure at all costs, without regard for anyone else. Married and family life is full of ups and downs, joys and sorrows. God is close at all times, especially when we are sorrowful.
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good tidings to the afflicted; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; Isaiah 61:1-2
We need to develop an attitude of mourning towards personal sin. God desires a heart that seeks to be right with Him. Again, marriage and family life is chock-full of opportunities for us to fall short of the righteousness that God desires. When we are sorry for our failings and sins, making frequent use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, God will give us His grace to do better next time.
Restore to me the joy of thy salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Psalm 51:12
Beatitude #3 – Meekness
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Matthew 5:5
God promises the earth as an inheritance to those who are meek. Society views meekness as a weakness but biblical meekness is controlled strength in times of trials. Jesus is our model of meekness. He laid down His life for the forgiveness of our sins but He was not afraid to throw the moneychangers out of the temple for desecrating it. The world, in contrast, honors the powerful over the mild and the proud over the humble of heart.
Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over him who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the wicked shall be cut off; but those who wait for the Lord shall possess the land. Psalm 37:7-9
To develop an attitude of meekness, submit your life to the kingship of Jesus. He gives us His Holy Spirit to guide us during good times and trials. Heaven knows that no family is free of trials and hardships.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
Beatitude #4 – Righteousness
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Matthew 5:6
God promises to fulfill those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. The world, in contrast, honors the self-made, independent and rugged individual who proclaims, “I did it my way.” God honors those who honor Him through obedience to His commands. Family life works best when Christ is at the center of everything we do.
[B]ut with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. Righteousness shall be the girdle of his waist, and faithfulness the girdle of his loins. Isaiah 11:4-5
To develop a spirit of righteousness, thirst for Christ above all worldly pleasures, seek Him with all your heart. Put Christ first place in your life and in your family. It has a way of ordering our lives that produces great fruit in our marriages and in the lives of our children.
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own, based on law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith. that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that if possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:7-11
Our prayer is that this study of the Beatitudes will encourage you to put Christ at the center of your marriage and family life.