SCRIPTURE: The Beatitudes, by Charles de Foucauld

From Hope in the Gospels

1. How blest are the poor in spirit: the reign of God is theirs. (Matthew 5:3)

Let us hope!  Salvation is at hand; Heaven is at hand, and here is an easy way to save ourselves, to enter into Heaven; only one thing is needed: “to be poor in spirit.”  To be poor in spirit is to be truly poor at the bottom of one’s soul, truly detached from all things, not only to be truly deprived of material goods, not only not to desire them, but to completely forget oneself, to have a soul empty not only of all earthly desires, but of all desire and absolutely so, whether concerning oneself or others, of self, of material things, absolutely empty of everything, and full of God.  In God, for God, for God’s sake, we will have desires for others, for ourselves; we will desire certain material things; but everything must be for God’s sake.  Only he will fill us: we will be absolutely empty of ourselves, of others, of material things, empty of all that is created, perfectly poor, perfectly detached from all that is created, and thereby ready to be full of God, rich in God, totally attached to God.  Here is a very easy way, that is within everybody’s reach, to earn Heaven.  Let us use it and hope for it, and hope in this great goodness of God which gives us the way to earn Heaven and to do it so easily!

2. Blest are the lowly; they shall inherit the land. (Matthew 5:5)

“The land of the living,” the land of “heavenly Zion,” the land of the “the home,” the only one that can make us blest, for we “are not of this world.”  In order to possess this blessed land, this “Vision of Peace,” in order to possess him who will give us our beatitude there, you, divine Child Jesus, whom I adore during this Christmas season, lying in your manger between your holy parents, in order to possess you in eternity and be forever at your feet between the Blessed Mother and Saint Joseph, without any fear of losing you, and enjoying endlessly the twin vision of your perfections and your happiness, all I have to be is truly lowly.  What an easy condition!  What a simply way!  How good you are, my God, to make our access to the Motherland so easy, and to show us its paths!  Let us hope, let us hope, since the road is so easy and since you show it so clearly to us, my God!  For if you show it to us in such a way, you will certainly give us also the strength to walk it.

3. Blest too are the sorrowing; they shall be consoled. (Matthew 5:4)

Let us hope; let us hope, all of us who are sorrowing, who are shedding innocent tears.  Let us hope when we cry for the pains of our body or of our soul: they are our purgatory.  God is using them to make us atone for our faults, to lift our eyes toward him, to purify us, to sanctify us.  Let us hope even more if we cry for the pains of others, for such a charity is inspired by God and pleases him; let us hope even more if we cry for our sins, because such a compunction is put into our souls by God himself; let us hope even more if we cry with a pure heart for others’ sins, for this love of God’s glory and of the sanctification of souls is inspired by God and is a great grace; let us hope if we cry out of the desire to see God and out of the pain of our separation from him, for this loving desire is God’s work in us.  Let us hope even more if we cry only because we love, without any desire or fear, fully wanting all that God wants, and wanting nothing else, happy in his glory, suffering his past suffering, crying at times out of compassion when we remember his Passion, at times out of joy when we think about his Ascension and his glory, and at times, simply out of sheer emotion because we love him unto death!  O very gentle Jesus, make me cry for all these reasons; make me cry all the tears that love pours out. in you, through you, and for you.  Amen.

4. Blest are they who hunger and thirst for holiness; they shall have their fill. (Matthew 5:6)

Hope!  Blest are they who give to all, to God, to others, to themselves what is their due!  Hope!  For the power to give to all what is their due is always within our reach, since the debt is repaid when it is impossible, absolutely impossible to repay it, as in the case of a debt due to God’s failing to give us grace.  We never owe anything to God, to people, nor to ourselves except what we have received from God: thus we are always able to give what we truly owe.  We can always fulfill our duties toward God, others, and ourselves, since such duties cease when we are unable to discharge them.  Let us then hope; it is up to us to be blest, for it is up to us to be just.  (We can always be blest, because we can always be just!)

5. Blest are they who show mercy; mercy shall be theirs. (Matthew 5:7)

Let us hope!  It is up to us to find mercy, to be saved.  For this purpose, all we have to do is to show mercy, when the occasion arises.  Let us hope, since God set such an easy condition as a price for our salvation.  Let us also hope because he is the first in practicing these virtues; if he recommends mercy, it is because he is merciful himself; if he recommends it so insistently, it is because he himself is infinitely merciful.  What greater reason for hope could we have than this proof of our God’s infinite mercy!

6. Blest are the single-hearted for they shall see God. (Matthew 5:8)

Further on, our Lord says: “The eye is the body’s lamp.  If your eyes are good, your body will be filled with light; if your eyes are bad, your body will be in darkness.” (Matthew 6:22)  This eye is the heart, the heart is the will.  If the heart is pure, simple, attached only to God, if the will is pure, simple, intent only on doing what God wills, on wanting what he wants, we will walk in full daylight during this life, for we shall be in the fullness of truth, and our life will be founded on the truth; our path will be in the light of our life at all times for the one who is the light of the world will enlighten it ceaselessly; and, at the end of our pilgrimage, we shall see God.  Let us hope, since in order to see God, all we have to do is to be purely attached to him from the heart, and to have the good will of doing what he wants from us without any reservation!  How could we not love the infinitely lovable Being, this so gentle Child Jesus who loves us and stretches out his arms to us, from within his little manger!  How could we not do what he wants from us; when one loves, one is ardently thirsting to obey, and if the beloved is perfect and can only command perfect things, as is the case with Jesus, isn’t this the greatest possible happiness?  Let us hope, then, since Jesus made the conditions for our salvation so easy and so gentle!

7. Blest too the peacemakers; they shall be called sons of God. (Matthew 5:9)

Peacemakers, peace-loving, seeking to make peace among people.  Such are those who will be called “sons of God.”  You don’t give them this beautiful name without a good reason, my Lord Jesus.  They who seek to make peace among people, to be at peace with all, are those who know what humanity is: one sole family where all are brothers and sisters, whose Father is God the Creator; a family for whom this unutterably good Father wants only what is good, more than any other father and mother in this world could ever want for this own, a family where the Father wants love among his various children more than the most tender mother in this world would ever want it among hers; a family, therefore, where God wants peace and love, harmony and the most affectionate tenderness among all brothers and sisters alike, that is, all humanity.  They who remember this, and therefore want true peace among people, who are all brothers and sisters and all sons and daughters of God, are rightly called “sons and daughters of God,” since they remember their origin and their Father.  Let us hope; let us hope, since Jesus declares blest whoever is a peacemaker; and what is easier than to do our best to be at peace with all and exert ourselves as God wants us to do in order to bring peace among others?  What is easier for one who thinks that all people are the beloved children of God and that Jesus gave his life for each one of them?

8. Blest are those persecuted for holiness’ sake; the reign of God is theirs. (Matthew 5:10)

Blest!  This very word proclaims hope!  Every time you utter it, my God, it is as if you were pointing your finger to Heaven for my sake, as if you were telling me: hope to go up there!  Indeed, who is there who can’t suffer persecution for holiness’ sake?  There are so many ways to suffer persecution for the sake of holiness!  All of us, if we so want, can suffer persecution for holiness’s sake: first, from God, by humbly accepting, in a spirit of penance, as a just punishment for our trespasses, all the afflictions that we will bear in this life; then, from ourselves, by self-mortification, so that we may suffer in such a manner a just punishment for our faults against God; then again, from the demons, by courageously resisting all their temptations which are the persecutions they inflict on us, so as to force us to abandon holiness, to destroy the holiness that is in ourselves, to make us offend the supreme holiness of God, out of hatred for all holiness, in order that there may be war in Heaven and on Earth; also, from people, through all the sufferings they will inflict on us, to lead us away from good, and we will never fail to be persecuted by them, not only by the wicked but even, at times, by the good ones, whenever we want to follow our Lord with our whole heart and apply all our strength to the achievement of holiness.  Let us hope therefore!

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