“Rejoice and be glad, because your reward will be great in heaven.”
We often hear or use the expression, “I am blessed, or be blessed, or have a blessed day.” It expresses our desire that all God’s many blessings will come down upon the people we know and love. It’s our prayer that the many blessings we have received from God will be bestowed upon every person we meet.
In today’s Gospel from Matthew, Jesus gives us the eight Beatitudes, the eight blessings he wants to bestow upon his disciples. Like the new Moses, Jesus goes up a mountain and gives inaugural address to his disciples, describing the eight virtues, qualities and principles that he himself possessed and that he wants his disciples to possess and put into practice each day. If anyone wants to follow him, to be his disciple, they must make these eight beatitudes, these eight hallmark virtues a reality in their lives.
Jesus says, “If you want to be blessed by God strive to be poor in spirit like I am poor in spirit. Let the Father be the center of your life. Put God first in your life and everything else will have its proper place.”
If you want to be blessed by God, when sorrow, loss and mourning comes into your life, let God be the source of your comfort.
If you want to be blessed by God, strive to be meek and humble like I am meek and humble, then the Father will give you whatever you need.
If you want to be blessed by God, hunger and thirst for righteousness and God will bring it to fulfillment through you.
If you want to be blessed by God, be merciful to others as I am merciful to you.
If you want to be blessed by God, strive to have a clean heart, love God and your neighbor as yourself, then you will see God.
If you want to be blessed by God, be a peacemaker, put an end to strife and division, and then you will be a child of God.
If you want to be blessed by God, when you are persecuted, insulted and made fun of for doing what is right, be still for the Kingdom of Heaven will be yours.
Then Jesus sums it all up and says, if you try to do all these things in imitation of me, rejoice and be glad for your reward will be great in heaven.
By baptism and confirmation we are called to imitate Christ, to speak like him, to think like him and to act like him, to put his words and virtues into action, to live the eight beatitudes each day. By the power of God’s grace may we strive each day to live as Jesus lived, and by so doing lead others to Christ, so that one day we may rejoice and be glad when we embrace our reward in heaven. Amen.