Sunday, January 30, 2011
The Way To True Happiness
I heard the Beatitudes today through the Cross; I have never heard them that way before. Perhaps this is why they finally seemed to make sense to me in a way they never have. If you listen to Jesus as He preaches these pearls of wisdom, He does it in a way that reminds us what the world says, but then shows us His way. His way is the way of the cross. He preached it, He lived it and He died on it so that we could be truly happy with Him.
In another part of the Gospel, Jesus tells us that in order to follow Him we must pick up our cross and come after Him. I used to hear this as a "No admission to the Kingdom" kind of thing, which in one sense it is, but if we go deeper into this I think what Jesus is really telling us is that we need to accept the Cross, His and ours, as a staff that helps us to follow Him; without it we will fall.
I brought this thought into my reflection on the Beatitudes as well. In the eyes of the world, the things Jesus preaches in the Beatitudes make no sense, the mercifulness, meekness, mournfulness, and the rest are all signs of weakness. The cross doesn't make sense to the world either, but to those who listen to and hear Jesus with faith, the Cross and the Beatitudes together are what will lead us to true happiness~ maybe some here in this earthly exile, but in abundance we cannot even imagine in our heavenly home.
When God really wants to get my attention and teach me something, His timing and materials are always impeccable. The musings I recounted above came a little from the homily my parish priest preached today; he alluded to the cross in the Beatitudes, but it was Archbishop Fulton Sheen who really taught the lesson for me. I am in the prayerful process of reading his Life of Christ and the chapter I was about to begin today was on the Beatitudes! It was after reading the archbishop's words that what Jesus has been trying to teach me all finally made some sense~ not just in my head but in my heart as well.
Here is a brief excerpt from that chapter. You can read more of it here, but I strongly recommend this book as part of your spiritual reading.
Thank You, Jesus for sending me good spiritual teachers and materials to draw me closer to You.
The Beatitudes cannot be taken alone: they are not ideals; they are hard facts and realities inseparable from the Cross of Calvary. What He taught was self-crucifixion: to love those who hate us; to pluck out eyes and cut off arms in order to prevent sinning; to be clean on the inside when the passions clamor for satisfaction on the outside; to forgive those who would put us to death; to overcome evil with good; to bless those who curse us; to stop mouthing freedom until we have justice, truth and love of God in our hearts as the condition of freedom; to live in the world and still keep oneself unpolluted from it; to deny ourselves sometimes legitimate pleasures in order the better to crucify our egotism-all this is to sentence the old man in us to death.
Psalm 45: Canticle of Love to the King
My heart overflows with a good theme;
I address my verses to the King;
My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.
You are fairer than the sons of men;
Grace is poured upon Your lips;
Therefore God has blessed You forever.
Gird Your sword on Your thigh, O Mighty One,
In Your splendor and Your majesty!
And in Your majesty ride on victoriously,
For the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness;
Let Your right hand teach You awesome things.
Your arrows are sharp;
The peoples fall under You;
Your arrows are in the heart of the King’s enemies.
Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;
A scepter of uprightness is the scepter of Your kingdom.
You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You
With the oil of joy above Your fellows.
All Your garments are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia;
Out of ivory palaces stringed instruments have made You glad.
Kings’ daughters are among Your noble ladies;
At Your right hand stands the queen in gold from Ophir.