Matthew 5:1-12a
See God Today
by Rev. Matthew Zuberbueler
Reprinted be permission of "The Arlington Catholic Herald"

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Matthew wrote to show that Christ was the
Messiah and fulfilled the Jewish prophecies.

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.  He began to teach them, saying:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.

We know we have had a great day when we can add insulted and persecuted to our usual list of mourning, meek, hungry, thirsty, and poor.  Life as a saint is so "rewarding."  The list of "blesseds" the Lord gives us actually isn't attractive when considered on the surface level.  It can be easy for us to live with the unrealistic expectation that fidelity to the Lord (a life in pursuit of holiness) automatically coincides with uninterrupted bliss.  Of course, fidelity to the Lord does promise that, but it comes later.  Or does it?  When the Gospel of the Beatitudes is read on All Saints Day it is worth considering the fact that the bliss of heaven really can begin here.  We can live now with real foretastes of the future great reward.  How do we know this?  Jesus teaches us. 

When Jesus spoke the words of the Beatitudes for the first time to His disciples, He was aware of the condition of each hearer.  He knew some of them were mourning or merciful or peacemakers or agitators or if they had clean hearts or unclean hearts.  He wanted to teach them.  He wanted to inspire them.  He wanted to call them to live a higher life.  Saints are the ones who live in heaven.  Saints become saints by living now as if what is later is real already and really is true.  Believers who mourn the loss of a loved one hope in a future resurrection and so they are comforted.  Their comfort will be greater when all is fulfilled, but they are comforted now.  Meek people don't have ambitions to own the wide-open spaces, but they live with expectation that they will have an abundance someday.  Their reward will be great, but the peace they possess already is itself a reward.  God dwells with His people so that His people will come to dwell with Him.  It is right for us to find Him in the circumstances of our lives.  The teachings of Jesus show us how to find the eternal context of everything.  When we live in the eternal context we begin to taste the joy and gladness of heaven - even when things seem to be going poorly in the ways of this world.

Do the Beatitudes promise a good return now or do they promise a future reward?  Yes, they promise both, actually.  Consider this Beatitude: Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.  Certainly in heaven those who make it will have clean hearts and they will see God.  Isn't heaven defined as beholding the face of God?  Can it be that someone unclean enters there?  Jesus is teaching that a clean heart is a condition for seeing God.

At the same time He is teaching that clean hearts are the hearts that will most readily see Him now, in this world.  In this life we know that we see God by faith.  We know that this is a special kind of seeing.  Believing is seeing, we might say.  A country song exclaims "I saw God today" while expressing a series of beautiful ways we can find Him here - and the reality that oftentimes we don't.  Saints have clean hears, pure hearts, hearts free from the snare of thinking this world can satisfy them.  Clean hearts are the reason saints see things as they are and the way they know that truth prevails in heaven.  If we think about it, we can understand that people who can rejoice and be glad when they are insulted and persecuted and have every kind of evil uttered against them falsely because of Him, are people who see Him now.  Such people already are satisfied.  That's why they want more.

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