Pope Francis on the Christian Life: So Simple & Yet So Difficult

You don’t get more practical than the Beatitudes. That was Pope Francis’ Monday morning message after his weekend devoted to peace in both the Middle East and in our hearts.

Political strategies are only as good as the authenticity of heart.

Not for the first time, during his homily, the Holy Father talked about the most practical elements of faith, pointing to the Beatitudes as our “identity card” as Christians. Via Vatican Radio, he said:

The world tells us that happiness, joy and entertainment are the best things in life. And it looks the other way when there are problems of disease or pain in the family. The world does not want to suffer, it prefers to ignore painful situations, to cover them up. Only the person who sees things as they are, and whose heart mourns, will be happy and will be comforted. Thanks to the consolation of Jesus, not to that of the world. Blessed are the meek in this world which is filled with wars, arguments, hatred. And Jesus says: no war, no hatred. Peace and meekness.”

He added:

“Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness”. How many people – Pope Francis said – have been persecuted, “and continue to be persecuted simply for having fought for justice”. And recalling the Beatitudes, the Pope pointed out that they represent “a programme for life offered to us by Jesus”: “So simple and yet so difficult”. And he said: “if we are searching for more, Jesus gives us other indications” as written in the Gospel according to Matthew, chapter 25: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was ill and you cared for me, I was in prison and you visited me”. With these two things – the Beatitudes and Matthew 25 – “one can live a holy, Christian life”.

During Holy Week of this year, Catholic Voices USA (full disclosure: which I helped establish here in the United States) sponsored a message pointing people to exactly that. Narrated by New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan with voiceover from Mother Agnes Donovan of the Sisters of Life, it briefly highlighted some of the social service and other thriving programs in the Archdiocese of New York: The Gianna Center, the Dominican Fathers (#OPPower on Twitter), Catholic Underground, the Little Sisters of the Poor, the Sisters of Life own Visitation Mission, among others. Cardinal Dolan explained “We Catholics do what we do because of He is Who He is. All Catholic social teaching comes from the words of Jesus on the Sermon on the Mount.”

The Sermon on the Mount points us to what our identity as Christians should look like as a practical matter, in our lives and in the public square.

They will know we are Christians by our love, as they say.

For a refresher:

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you

and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.
Rejoice and be glad,
for your reward will be great in heaven.
Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

St. John Paul, II, help us be who we say we are!

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