Jesus knew human suffering and understood our weaknesses. He knew the struggles that humans face every day as they faced the trials and challenges of their lives and He showed us a new way. Jesus, as a teacher, healer and guide wandered the countryside of Palestine preaching the good news of the Kingdom, healing the broken heart, bringing forgiveness and the unconditional love of God to the people he met. Jesus became the Incarnated face of God upon the earth. He lived with the people, ate with them, drank with them, laughed with them and cried with them. He knew the human heart and saw people as children in need of guidance. His life was a constant interplay between solitude and action. He would teach, heal, instruct and when finished, retreat to the silence to commune with his Father.
His interaction with the prostitute about to be stoned showed his unconditional love without any judgement. His reaction at the tomb of his friend Lazarus for Mary and her friends showed his compassion for those who mourned. His great parable of the Good Samaritan taught us love for our neighbor and the Prodigal Son parable helped us understand the love of God.
Jesus did not come to save the holy, the spiritual elite or the rich, he came to save those who wept, whose hearts were shattered, who suffered from physical and spiritual illness, who were the outcasts of society. He came not to be served but to serve. This is the Jesus we wish to follow. The one we wish to imitate.
Jesus showed us a way of life and it is found in the Beatitudes. This “Way” can be divided into the way of no attachments, the way of cultivation, the way of refinement and the way of peace and joy.
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.
The first three Beatitudes are concerned with a radical reevaluation of our values. This is the first stage of the spiritual life. It is a reorientation from external attachments that promise happiness in material things to a reintegration of our nature to the Love of God. The soul is awakened to the worthlessness of earthly riches and worldly honors. We begin to purge ourselves of unhealthy desires. If our heart is obsessed with material things it manifests in all kinds of distorted ways. Distorted thoughts are the root of negative behavior. If there are unhealthy desires it will affect our wellbeing and influence everything we do. Our health will be impacted and we will lose our energy and vitality.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
In the next two Beatitudes we begin to practice the love of God and neighbor. We are becoming more assimilated into the heart of Christ and as we become a lover of God, we become a lover of our neighbor. In this second stage our prayer life begins to have an increase in inwardness and zeal in our love of God. Our active life is marked by an intense exercise of cultivating all the virtues, especially charity. And grace is marked by the initial fermentation of supernatural light and we begin to savor the things of heaven. This is a critical period in which we either rise higher or fall into laxity, allowing our spiritual growth to be blocked. There is danger of exteriorizing our spirituality and spoiling any advancement we make. We must be careful not to put on a mask and pretend to be what we’re not. Be authentic and don’t run after illusions. Let your exterior reflect the truth that resides in you otherwise the effort needed to hold a direction is abandoned and there is simply action and reaction. Allow your actions to flow from your heart. If your actions are forced, they come from your ego and the seed that was planted will wither up and die.
The Way of Refinement
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
In the next two beatitudes we become more aware of God’s love for us. This is the way of purification and complete abandonment to God. The Father and the Son pour their spirit of love into our heart. In this third stage we must pass through what spiritual writers call “the dark night of the soul.” The Old Man must die so the New Man can be formed in us. We must be nailed to the cross with Christ so that we no longer live but Christ lives in us. We are suspended between heaven and earth. We feel alone, abandoned just as Christ did on the cross. This is a purgation, our soul is still stained at its root by egoism, intellectual pride, self-righteousness, personal judgement and to our own way of seeing, feeling and to our will. We have been so blessed by God that we can become tempted by the sin of self-righteousness. No piousness means not wanting our good deeds announced to the world, that we do what is right to bring people to the truth but not for our own selfish reputation. So, if any one who teaches the way of heaven and guides others to the truth, they will know peace and joy but not if they do so for their own glory.
The Way of Peace and Joy
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.
In the last beatitude we pass from the heroic state of the first seven beatitudes to the Way of Peace and Joy. All the virtues acquired in the other stages are deepened and perfected and vitally integrated in this stage in a harmony of Love. The gift of wisdom harmonizes all things and infuses into us the wonderful insight that Love is all and that the same Love that moves the sun and stars is throbbing in the heart of your heart and the soul of your soul. The Way of Love starts from Love and ends in Love. All the eight beatitudes are in reality only one: Blessed are you who love, for you shall be loved by God.
Note: Abridged from the authors book – “A Finger Pointing To The Moon”: Considerations on Living as a Lay Monk by John Waligorski