Easter and the blessings of the Kingdom
We have a vocation to blessedness. This is what the Beatitudes of Jesus teach us.
The path of the Beatitudes leads out from Christ’s empty tomb. We can walk this path because by his love Jesus conquered the hatred of sin and the corruption of death.
Creation begins again on that first Easter morning. Humanity is renewed and restored to the image that God intended in the beginning, in the first creation.
Jesus came down and entered this world as true God and true man. And by his Cross and Resurrection he became the bridge that reunites heaven and earth. Through his humanity, in his dying and rising, the whole human race can now pass over and once more share in the blessings of God’s divinity.
His empty tomb opens a new world for us, a new world that we join by faith and Baptism. That is why we renew our Baptismal promises each year at Easter.
The psalmists and prophets taught us to hope for the day when God would cleanse us of every impurity and create a clean heart in us. That’s what happens on the day of our Baptism. The love of God is poured into our hearts.
Jesus describes the blessings of Baptism in his sixth Beatitude: “Blessed are the pure of heart.”
Purity of heart is the summary of the life of blessedness that Jesus calls us to. The pure in heart are a new creation, men and women restored to the image of God in which we are created. Redeemed and renewed, we are capable of sharing in God’s vision, his purposes.
The pure of heart are the “new humanity” that St. Paul talks about. They are those who are poor and humble, who weep with those who weep and thirst for justice. They make peace where they find conflict and they are ready to lay down their lives for God and God’s causes. They are people of the Beatitudes.
To be pure in heart means more than only chastity and modesty. Purity is a whole way of living. A way of holiness. This Beatitude calls us to purify not only our actions but also our desires. We need to set ourselves free from selfish motives and worldly ambitions.
To be pure in heart means we only want one thing — to love and glorify God by our lives, by doing his will, by seeking his Kingdom.
Jesus tells us that the pure of heart will see God.
This Beatitude, like all the others, comes with a specific promise. Jesus promises comfort to those who mourn, satisfaction to those who hunger, mercy to those who are merciful.
The promises of all seven Beatitudes are all dimensions of the Kingdom of heaven, which is the promise of his first and last Beatitudes.
The Kingdom is God’s will for the world. His Kingdom is his Church, the new family of God, which is our inheritance by Baptism. The Beatitudes are the values of God’s Kingdom and the means through which his Kingdom grows.
Jesus told us his Kingdom is not coming in signs that we can observe or point to.
His Kingdom is coming little by little. Coming through all the ways that we allow God to work in our lives — through our poverty and humility, our solidarity and mercy; through our work for justice and peace; through our sacrifices for what is right and true.
Living the Beatitudes, we are building his Kingdom. Through the witness of our lives, a new world of faith rises in this world.
Of course, we will not know the fullness of God’s promises until we reach the next life.
Jesus told us his Kingdom is not of this world. But it begins here. One day we will see God face to face. But we can live in the new light of his presence and love right now, every day. By living out the mission of our Baptism. By living his Beatitudes.
So in this glorious season of Easter, when the whole world is made new and every life is given fresh possibilities for holiness and love, let us continue to pray for one another.
I wish all of your families a blessed Easter. May this be a time for all of us to grow in holiness and to follow Jesus more closely and live the new life that he gives us.
And may our Mother Mary, who said that all generations would call her Blessed, give us all a new joy in living the Beatitudes.
Archbishop Gomez’s book, “Immigration and the Next America,” is available at the Cathedral Gift Shop (www.olacathedralgifts.com/immigrationandthenextamericarenewingthesoulofournation.aspx). Follow him at www.facebook.com/ArchbishopGomez.