The Beatitudes are the teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-10). Jesus teaches us that if we live according to the Beatitudes, we will live a happy Christian life. The Beatitudes do not provide specific directions on how we should live our lives, as the Ten Commandments do. Rather, they inspire us to adopt a certain mindset or vision for our lives, namely, the vision of Jesus Christ. The Beatitudes challenge us to be people of virtue. Virtue is a firm attitude, mindset, or disposition to do good. For the virtuous person, doing good is a habit. Through the Beatitudes, Jesus calls us to change our vision and learn that in order to be happy (blessed), we must be peace-loving, merciful, clean of heart, and meek.
Living the Beatitudes is a lifelong task because the Beatitudes turn upside down the values of the world. The world sets up the rich to be first; Jesus puts the poor on top of the world. The world tells us to seek happiness at all costs; Jesus saw happiness in mourning. The world values power over others; Jesus praised the meek. The world encourages self-fulfillment; Jesus told us to work for justice. The world says that the merciless succeed; Jesus proclaimed blessed the merciful. The world announces, Go for the gold!; Jesus taught us to keep our hearts pure. The world honors the winners of wars; Jesus celebrated peacemakers. The world sees the persecuted as losers; Jesus declared them the winners.
So what are some ways that we can develop the Beatitudes in our own lives? First, we can rest assured that the Holy Spirit is already at work within us, drawing us toward God and inspiring our desire to be a Beatitudes-type of person. Second, like anything we hope to develop in ourselves, we must be open, learn, and study. Pay attention to the people you know who model a particular beatitude. Think of ways you can model their behavior in your own life. Finally, talk with God in prayer. Ask him to help you out and to teach you how to develop the Beatitudes in your mind, heart, and actions.