DAY ONE: The Portrait of Blessedness
Jesus proclaims eight times what blessedness, full happiness or perfect joy consists in. He begins his evangelizing ministry by announcing blessedness in God’s Kingdom. Blessedness is a fruit of God’s action that Jesus affirms and promises. People possessing some identified
qualities and engaging in specified acts are declared blessed because they are assured of an action of God in and for them. Infinite joy would permeate these persons because God’s reign, providential action and benevolence would be theirs. Belonging to God’s reign is a good summary of God’s other actions that make us blessed: God will console, will satiate, will be merciful, will give land, will manifest God’s face, and will call them children. To be blessed is to see, hear, touch and experience God ruling one’s life.
No one exemplifies these to us than Jesus himself. He is the portrait of a truly happy and blessed person. Jesus could testify to blessedness because of His experience of the Father’s unbounded love that became His sustenance in the face of opposition, failure, forgiveness, betrayal and death. Christ’s words and works chronicle the surprising ways by which God blesses those who trust in Him.
In his message to the youth for the Twenty-Ninth World Youth Day (2014), Pope Francis said, “Throughout his life, from his birth in the stable in Bethlehem until his death on the cross and his resurrection, Jesus embodied the Beatitudes. All the promises of God’s Kingdom were fulfilled in him.”
Key Question (Ponder in your heart): How have we experienced the joy that God gives, in contrast to that offered by the world?
DAY TWO: The Pathways to Blessedness
It is clear that blessedness is a grace, a gift and action of God. But not all human dispositions and actions orient us to receive the grace. Jesus also indicates the path that leads us to God’s blessedness. Poverty of spirit speaks of one’s need for and dependence on God, as against selfsufficiency. Mourning is crying with others, as against hardness of heart and egoism. Meekness allows others to grow and live, as against dominating them. Thirst for justice seeks right relationships with others, as against indifference and manipulation. Mercy makes one stop to
help a needy neighbor and to forgive, as against blindness and pride. Peacemaking is taking steps for love to triumph, as against sowing seeds of hatred. Blessedness involves serious human tasks, responsibilities and conversion. Jesus does not constrict or restrict but liberates us into genuine joy. The path to blessedness is that of freedom to love and serve especially the least. True blessedness is the freedom promised to God’s children and those who allow God to reign in them.
Pope Francis says that the beatitudes are the path to true happiness, the path that God indicates as an answer to the desire of happiness inherent in man (Wednesday General Audience, August 6, 2014). The pattern and the signposts to blessedness have been clearly laid down by Jesus. They, however, require a human response and a communal commitment.
Key Question (Ponder in your heart): How have the paths to blessedness liberated me to love, to serve and form community?
DAY THREE: The Program of Blessedness
Our community’s identity and mission is to discover the reign of God in our helplessness and vulnerabilities. We are constantly called to think of pastoral, ministerial and missionary approaches that do not only respond to actual needs but would afford experiences of being blessed in God’s eyes. The Church is not an ordinary social welfare organization. She is a mother
who keeps the memory of God’s love alive in her children. Christians are not mere social activists. We are bearers of the hope and the fulfilment of the kingdom of God. We are proclaimers of the joy of the Gospel in our insatiable and desperate world.
The first words of the Holy Father in his apostolic exhortation serve as our inspiration, “The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ, joy is
constantly born anew. In this Exhortation, I wish to encourage the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by this joy, while pointing out new paths for the Church’s journey in years to come.” (EG, 1) PCNE II is our local response to this new chapter of evangelization. And we are looking at the path of the beatitudes as the new paths for the new evangelizers in the third millennium and our fundamental pastoral missionary project as a Church.
Key Question (Ponder in your heart): How can we restore the joy/blessedness of being evangelizers or messengers of the Gospel of God’s reign?