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The Beatitudes

Eight Ways to Follow God

In Matthew 5, during what is often called the "Sermon on the Mount," Jesus gave his followers what are traditionally called the Beatitudes.

John VersesThe word "beatitude" is taken from the Greek word "beatus" meaning "blessed" or "happy." They're called beatitudes because Jesus begins each one by called the person or the action blessed.

The beatitudes are a way that we as Christians can follow Jesus. They do not replace the Ten Commandments, but rather complement them. For example, while the Ten Commandments prohibit murder, the beatitudes call us to pursue peace. The Ten Commandments prohibit adultery, while the beatitudes call us to purity of heart.

Jesus' beatitudes are very lofty and some people see them as impossible to keep. However, Jesus, by calling those who follow them "blessed," clearly intended us, as future followers, to adhere to them as well. It's no coincidence that the Church uses these blessings as a reading on All Saint's Day.

Here are the beatitudes as found in the King James Bible (KJV):

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

You can see that these words of Christ are challenging, but also offer amazing rewards, both individually and collectively. Even in Christian societies, very few people have tried living out the Beatitudes in a literal way. Unfortunately, Jesus' calls for holiness and right living likely won't be applied on a large scale any time soon, thanks to human nature.

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