Reflection & Dialogue: The Beatitudes and Our Vocation to Beatitude

The Catechism of the Catholic Church considers the Beatitudes of such importance that it devotes a special section (numbers1716-1720) to them and their bearing on Christian teaching and Christian life. “The Beatitudes”, it reminds us, “are at the heart of Jesus’ preaching. They take up the promises made to the chosen people since Abraham. The Beatitudes fulfil the promises by ordering them no longer merely to a territory, but to the Kingdom on Heaven. The Beatitudes depict the countenance of Jesus Christ and portray his charity. They express the vocation of the faithful associated with the glory of his Passion and Resurrection; they shed light on the action and attitudes characteristic of the Christian life; they are the paradoxical promises that sustain hope in the midst of tribulation; they proclaim the blessings and rewards already secured, however dimly, for Christ’s disciples; they have begun in the lives of the Virgin Mary and all the saints”.

The Catechism text goes on to speak of the desire for happiness, noting that the Beatitudes respond to the natural desire for happiness. The desire is of divine origin: God placed it in the human heart in order to draw mortals to the One who alone can fulfil it. The New Testament uses several expressions to characterize the beatitude to which God calls mortals: the coming of the kingdom of God; the vision of God: “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God”; entering the joy of the Lord; entering into God’s rest.

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