In today’s Gospel, we enter into the very heart of Jesus’ teaching. What the Ten Commandments are to the entire Old Testament Law, so the Beatitudes are to Jesus’ teaching in the New Testament. We can study these alone and come to know all the rest. They show the very heart of Jesus Christ.
The Beatitudes fall in with the tradition of the Jewish literature of the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Sirach and Wisdom. But they go far beyond these with their new ideal of unconditional love. They call us to a morality higher than any other in the world. They motivate with love, not with fear. The Old Testament says, “The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord.” But the New Testament says “Love casts out all fear.”
Jesus says to the sinner, “Come to me. I will refresh you.” The Beatitudes show Jesus’ unfailing love for the crowd.
Jesus looked upon the crowds, the masses of simple people and his heart was moved with pity. Here one sees the heart of words, “I have come to call not the self-righteous but sinners.” He does not support sin, but he unconditionally loves the sinner. He knew their life; he knew their longings.
In the Beatitudes, Jesus gives us the rules, the prescription for happiness, for sanctity. There is no other way to be converted, to be really committed to following closely in the footsteps of Christ.