COR THOUGHTS 188: The Beatitudes Are a Promise of Eternal Bliss

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In this Sunday’s Gospel, Christ proclaims the Beatitudes, which, as the Catechism observes, “are at the heart of Jesus’ preaching” (CCC 1716). They also “reveal the goal of human existence” (CCC 1719) by responding “to the natural desire for happiness. This desire is of divine origin: God has placed it in the human heart in order to draw man to the One who alone can fulfill it” (CCC 1718). The very word “beatitude” refers to a state of ultimate and total fulfillment, which we will experience in heaven by entering “into the joy of the Trinitarian life” (CCC 1721). The good news of the Gospel is that “God himself is an eternal exchange of love, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and he has destined us to share in that exchange” (CCC 221). This good news is not far away from us. In fact, God has stamped a sign of it right in our bodies by making us male and female and calling us to share in a created version of the live-giving exchange of the Trinity. The error we so often make, however, is that of mistaking the sign for the thing signified. We expect the body and sexual union to provide what only union with God can: the happiness for which we long. Hence, the “beatitude we are promised confronts us with decisive moral choices. It invites us to purify our hearts of bad instincts and to seek the love of God above all else. It teaches us that true happiness is not found … in any creature, but in God alone” (CCC 1723).