This past summer I had the opportunity to be the officiant at the wedding of my nephew, Sam and his bride, Rachel. I say officiant, because Matrimony is the only sacrament that is not administered by the Bishop or his designate (Priest or Deacon). According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “the spouses as ministers of Christ’s grace confer upon each other the sacrament of Matrimony by expressing their consent before the Church.”
I bring this up because when I meet with a couple preparing to be married I give them a book called Together for Life. I explain that the book contains all the parts of their wedding, whether a Mass or a simple ceremony, and that they get to choose the prayers, the readings and the vows.
When Sam and Rachel chose their readings and prayers I wasn’t a bit surprised because most couples pick certain ones. The biggest surprise was the Gospel of Matthew which contains the Beatitudes, part of the greatest sermon ever preached: The Sermon on the Mount. At first I thought how am I going to preach on this, however…In the Beatitudes Jesus identifies those who are truly the recipients of God’s grace and blessing. The Beatitudes give us a roadmap for being one of God’s chosen people, one of His Disciples.
Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount begins with the Beatitudes, a list of blessings that describe the inner character of those who are true servants of God and the kingdom of heaven. This teaching was part of Jesus’s intensive discipleship training for His twelve chosen apostles.
The Beatitudes offer solid truths for living as a disciple of Christ. While each Beatitude can stand on its own, they aren’t merely a collection of unrelated statements. They are linked in an unbroken chain, each one building on the previous truth. Several of the Beatitudes deal with the condition of the heart; others deals with our relationship with God; the last part is about our relationships with others.
The Beatitudes are the teachings of Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount. Jesus teaches us that if we live according to the Beatitudes, we will live a happy Christian life. The Beatitudes fulfill God’s promises made to Abraham and his descendants and describe the rewards that will be ours as loyal followers of Christ. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven.