(CNA) The beatitudes should be a defining feature of a Christian’s identity because they reveal the way that Jesus lived his life, Pope Francis said Wednesday.
“The beatitudes always bring joy; they are the way to joy,” Pope Francis said January 29.
“It will do us good to take the Gospel of Matthew today, chapter five verses one to eleven, and read the beatitudes -- perhaps a few more times during the week -- to understand this road so beautiful, so sure of the happiness that the Lord offers us,” he said in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall.
Pope Francis said that the beatitudes should be considered “a Christian’s identity card” because they reveal “the face of Jesus himself.”
“There are eight beatitudes,” he said. “It would be nice to learn them by heart to repeat them, to have precisely in mind and heart, this law that Jesus gave us.”
Pope Francis began a new series of catechesis on the eight beatitudes from Matthew’s Gospel. In this series, the pope will reflect on one beatitude per week over the next two months in his Wednesday general audiences.
The pope said that the beatitudes are a message for all of humanity.
“It's hard not to be touched by these words of Jesus, and it is a just desire to want to understand them and to welcome them more fully,” he said.
Francis clarified that the beatitudes bring one the true joy of being “blessed,” which is different from worldly happiness.
“It is the Easter joy,” the pope said.
In giving himself to us, God often chooses “unthinkable paths” that test our limits, bringing tears or defeat, the pope said. It is the joy of one who "has the stigmata, but is alive, one who has died to himself and experienced the power of God.”
“But what does the word 'blessed' mean? The original Greek term makarios does not indicate one who has a full belly or is doing well, but is a person who is in a condition of grace, who progresses in the grace of God,” he said.
The pope noted that Jesus taught the Beatitudes as a part of his “Sermon on the Mount,” adding that the mountain is an allusion to Sinai, where God gave Moses the Ten Commandments.
“Jesus begins to teach a new law: to be poor, to be meek, to be merciful. These 'new commandments' are much more than norms. In fact, Jesus does not impose anything, but reveals the way of happiness,” Pope Francis said.