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Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Test On The Blessed





How well do you remember the Beatitudes?

   What’s the secret to becoming a better person, a person who continues to grow spiritually? There’s no secret. Jesus tells us how in Matthew 5:1-12 – the Beatitudes. How much do you know about these keys to leading a fuller Christian life? Begin with No. 1 and follow the directions.


1. Let’s start with an easy question. How many Beatitudes are there?
a. Ten. (Go to 21)
b. Eight. (Head for 34)


2. The seventh Beatitude has to do with making peace while the eight reminds us about what?
a. Following God’s will can cost us. (Head for 9)
b. Be honest in all things. (Go to 27)


3. In the fifth Beatitude, Jesus says those who show mercy will receive mercy. At Mass, when do we publicly agree to the deal Jesus is offering?
a. The Our Father. (Move to 8)
b. The Nicene Creed. (Head for 26)


4. You’re right. That’s another name for the kingdom of God. Matthew is the only Evangelist to use “kingdom of heaven” – following the Jewish custom of showing deep reverence by avoiding saying (or writing) God’s name. Now head for 25.


5. Yes. Does that sound familiar? It should. We’re back where we started. The first and last Beatitudes have the same pledge from Christ: the kingdom of heaven. Now head for 43.


6. What’s promised to “the clean of heart” ?
a. They will see God. (Head for 15)
b. They will be called children of God. (Go to 39)


7. Right. Not prime real estate, but “the land of milk and honey”. Salvation and eternal life. And no property taxes on it. Now head for 19.


8. Every time we say “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” To the degree that we forgive – show mercy – to others, we ask God to have mercy on us. Now move on to 6.


9. That’s right. In the last Beatitude, Jesus has a promise for those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. Now move on to your final question, 38.


10. Sorry. “They will be filled.” Return to 41.


11. That was a long answer! Let’s try a short one. What are the “poor in spirit” promised?


a. The kingdom of heaven. (Go to 4)
b. They will be comforted. (Move to 33)


12. No, that sounds more like self-righteousness. Return to 18.


13. Both answers are correct. Where Matthew has “poor in spirit,” Luke writes simply “poor”. And where Matthew has eight Beatitudes, Luke has only four. Scripture scholars consider Luke’s first three “authentic” and believe the fourth comes from the early Church. Matthew has added four based on Psalms. Does this mean Matthew’s aren’t genuine? Of course it doesn’t. The verses reflect what Jesus taught, what the crowds heard, even if we don’t know, for example, if He was on a mount or a plain. Despite the differences between the two Evangelists’ writing, Jesus’ message is the same. Now move on to 11.


14. Oh, no. Return to 25.


15. Good for you. Now head for 30.


16. Correct. Each Beatitude describes a condition or way of behaving (hungering and thirsting for righteousness, being merciful, being pure of heart) and what particular grace that hardship will bring. Now go to 24.


17. Yes, the word means to both console and to invite to a banquet. Jesus is inviting to his table those who mourn. But that word means even more. It can also be translated as encourage, excite, or urge. Those who mourn can become God’s helpers – can become witnesses to the truth Jesus is teaching. Those who mourn can have their hearts set on fire with God’s love. Now go on to 41.


18. The fourth Beatitude, a la Matthew, is gentler, more lenient, than Luke’s. Luke writes of those who are now “hungry”. Period. Matthew’s version refers to those who “hunger and thirsts for righteousness”. What does righteousness mean?


a. Strongly convinced of our own goodness. (Head for 12)
b. Living in accordance with God’s will. (Move to 23)


19. No, Jesus isn’t telling the clean of heart they’re going to have visions here on earth. Return to 30.


20. Yes, but our word meek doesn’t really describe the virtue Jesus was praising. In Scripture, the Greek praus – meaning meek or gentle – referred to a person who had a positive attitude toward God and others, not to someone with no self-esteem or backbone. Jesus wasn’t saying “Blessed are the wishy-washy.” Now move on to 32.


21. No. Return to 1.


22. Ultimately. The Beatific Vision – the blessed, happy sight – is seeing God. That immediate knowledge of God is heaven. Now go on to 2.


23. Correct. When St. John Chrysostom (c. 347- 407) wrote about this Beatitude, he said righteousness is the “the whole of virtue” – following God’s will is following all virtues. And, he noted, we aren’t supposed to merely work at being righteous but “hunger and thirst” for it. Now go on to 3.


24. The Gospel of Luke has a similar list of Beatitudes from Jesus’ “Sermon on the Plain” (6:20-49). That version has:


a. Half as many Beatitudes. (Go to 13)
b. Less “wiggle room” for us when it comes to poverty. (Head for 37)


25. When Matthew explains those who mourn will be comforted, he uses the Greek word paraklein. That does, indeed, mean console, but it also means:


a. Wreak vengeance on one’s enemies. (Head for 14)
b. Invite to a banquet. (Go to 17)


26. No. Return to 3.


27. No, that would be the Eighth Commandment about not bearing false witness. Return to 2.


28. How can we be happy if we are poor, if we are mourning, if we are persecuted?


a. Jesus said for every hardship involved in serving God, there is also a blessing. (Head for 16)
b. Jesus was not speaking in literal terms. (Go to 42)


29. Following the Beatitudes is a path to holiness but, no, that isn’t what the word itself means. Return to 40.


30. But what does “see God” mean?


a. Be blessed with visions of Our Lord. (Move to 19)
b. Get to heaven. (Head for 22)


31. Yes. It comes from the Latin beatitude, which means happiness. Some translations of the Bible use “blessed” while others say “happy”: happy are those who mourn, happy are the meek, and so on. Now head for 28.


32. Someone who is meek in the biblical sense isn’t a person who never gets angry. Rather, he or she knows when to get angry and how to get angry. Jesus described Himself as “meek and humble of heart” (Mt. 11:29), but He could get angry. An example is when He drove the money changers from the Temple in John 2:15. So what’s in store for those who practice this virtue? The earth. That means:


a. The Promised Land. (Go to 7)
b. Real estate. (Head for 36)


33. No, it’s those who mourn who will be comforted. Return to 11.


34. That’s right. Ready for a harder one? Move on to 40.


35. No. Return to 38.


36. You’re kidding. Right? Return to 32.


37. Both answers are correct. Where Matthew has “poor in spirit”, Luke writes “poor”. And where Matthew has eight Beatitudes, Luke has only four. Scripture scholars consider Luke’s first three “authentic” and believe the fourth comes from the early Church. Matthew has added four based on the Psalms. Does this mean Matthew’s aren’t genuine? Of course, it doesn’t. The verses reflect what Jesus taught, what the crowds heard, even if we don’t know, for example, if He was on a mount or a plain. Despite the differences between the two Evangelists’ writing, Jesus’ message in the same. Now move on to 11.


38. What is that promise? What’s in store for those who are persecuted?


a. “Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Move to 5)
b. “They will be consoled.” (Go to 35)


39. No, those are the peacemakers. Return to 6.


40. What does the word beatitude mean?


a. It means holy. (Move to 29)
b. It means happy. (Go to 31)


41. The third Beatitude says who will inherit the earth?


a. Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. (Head for 10)
b. The meek. (Move to 20)


42. No. The Church teaches that Jesus meant exactly what He was saying. Return to 28.


43. When the Church celebrates All Saints Day on November 1, it uses the Beatitudes for the Gospel reading at Mass. That only makes sense. Our saints are those among us who have lived these eight keys to holiness and true happiness.
       Let’s close by paraphrasing the Catechism of the Catholic Church (paragraphs 1716, 1718): Beatitudes are at heart of Jesus’ preaching. They respond to the natural desire for happiness. This desire is of divine origin: God has placed it in the human heart to draw humankind to the One who alone can fulfill it.
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