Well the truth is that Jesus had a different take on the whole matter. The beatitudes name the ways in which peoples’ lives and well-being are threatened: grinding poverty, grief, landlessness, hunger, war and persecution. Jesus does not advise that those so afflicted simply wait for a reversal of fortune in the hereafter, though the final verse does speak of great reward in heaven. Jesus calls for attitudes and actions that will more fully bring about the reign of God. The poor are the humble whose wealth is found in their relationship with God and not in gold. The meek are not to be “shrinking violets” who accept injustice, but rather, those who know their proper place as children of God, and who stand up to ensure that all people are treated with dignity and as full heirs to God’s Reign.
The beatitudes are really “Be - Attitudes”…they call us to a way of holiness through reaching out to all who suffer in this world, and promise us that to the extent that we reach out to and work on behalf of the suffering we will become more fully the “blessed of God” and in the process we help to build up the Reign of God! One of the major differences in the sermon in the Gospel of Matthew and Luke’s are the “woe unto you” verses. These verses serve as warnings so that people will take stock of their lives and reflect on how they are living and building up the Reign of God. As we take time this week to reflect on this Gospel let us focus on the beatitudes and ask ourselves: in what concrete ways will I live out the “Be – Attitudes” today?