The Lord always meets us on high mountains. This is where He gave Moses the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai (Ex 19-24). The Beatitudes were also given on a mountain top. Jesus delivered this powerful message to His disciples who had to come up the mountain. In Moses’ case he had to go down the mountain to deliver the message to the incorrigible Israelites. Moses had to meet the Israelites at their spiritual level.
Climbing the Spiritual Mountain
It takes training to climb a mountain; the higher you go, the better equipped you need to be. Climbing a spiritual mountain is preparing yourself to reach the top with the anticipation of meeting God. It’s a perfect place of peace, similar to the mountain climber who reaches a certain zenith to take in the natural beauty of God’s created nature. To reach the spiritual mountain takes training and sacrifice. You must be willing to give up your time to prepare for this encounter. Preparing for a spiritual journey requires a constant state of prayer.
The Beatitudes are at the heart of Jesus’ teaching. They take up the promises make to the chosen people since Abraham. The Beatitudes fulfill the promises by ordering them no longer merely to the possession of a territory but to the Kingdom of heaven. (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1716)
The Sermon on the Mount
I believe that the word “blessed” has been hijacked by the world and is used out of context. Hashtag and blessed used together is an oxymoron. The true meaning of blessed is makarios (Greek): to be happy, fortunate. In the beatitude of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is pouring out His Sacred Heart by teaching us how to become more like Him.
When Jesus shared this message with His disciples He prepared them for one of the most important life lessons.
Blessed are the poor in spirit: those who are spiritually humble, recognize their need for God’s grace. They acknowledge their own spiritual poverty, are unattached to the world and find solace in the Lord. They are rich in faith. (James 2:5)
Blessed are those who mourn: Every tear that we shed will be comforted by God. We weep for the suffering of others, for the loss of loved ones and for any grief we have caused our Lord.
and lead them to springs of life-giving water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
Blessed are the meek: Their gentle spirits have the world fooled into believing that they are powerless and insignificant. The meek are far from that; they have the inner strength to remain calm because they know how to refrain from anger. They have the ability to refrain by conquering evil with good. They will inherit the earth; this refers to heaven itself.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness: They are starving for righteousness; they believe in justice, and doing right toward others. (Jn 4:13-14)
Blessed are the merciful: Mercy forgives others even when they do not deserve it. They imitate God’s mercy because they have patience and understanding .
Blessed are the pure in heart: They are clean, undefiled, act with integrity and avoid compromise.
Blessed are the peacemakers: They sow peace and share the gospel so that others can reconcile with God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake: The world hates them because they are the true witnesses of God. They are committed because they believe in the righteousness of the Gospel.
Of all these beatitudes I can honestly say that have come close to fulfilling only two. I do hunger and thirst for righteousness, and I believe that I am in training to become a stronger peacemaker. I accept but labor to master rest of the beatitudes. These were our Lord’s wishes for all of us. My spiritual mountain is a constant battle with many worldly obstacles and the unwanted debrisI experience on the way up. I will never give up my climb until I’ve reached my Mount Sinai.
The Church of the Beatitudes
Several years ago we had a two-day retreat at the Church of the Beatitudes. This Roman Catholic Church is under the Primacy of St. Peter, which means that it is under the protection of the Franciscan Order. I will never forget this experience, not only because it brought me closer to God, but because my feet were planted on the same ground where our Lord gave this powerful message. We celebrated Mass in the garden under beautiful palm trees. I felt the cool breeze off the Sea of Galilee that silently touched my face. Truly we were in the presence of God, and He was pleased we were there. The Chapel of the Beatitudes is shaped like an octagon; its eight sides reflect the eight written beatitudes. The garden area is so pristine it seems that angels have a hand in its upkeep. We were up early and took advantage of the quiet time for prayer before all the other tourists arrived. I distinctly remember that from every view of the chapel the placid reflection of the Sea of Galilee welcomed us. I long to go back.
Lord, teach me Your way. Help me to personify the beatitudes. I want to have a pure heart and be merciful. Teach me to be meeker. Help me to mourn when I sin against You, and when I am persecuted for righteousness sake, help me to turn the other cheek. Amen.