What every Christian needs on the road of life
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis on Monday urged Christians to use the Beatitudes to navigate their lives and steer clear of three paths to perdition: greed, vanity and egoism.
Addressing those present at morning Mass, in the chapel of his residence at the Vatican’s Casa Santa Marta, the Pope drew several points of reflection from St. Matthew’s Gospel account of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are the poor … blessed are the meek … blessed are the merciful … blessed are the pure in heart” (Mt 5:1-12).
“Navigators of the Christian life”
Jesus “was teaching the new law, which does not eliminate the old law” but “perfects” it by bringing it “to its fullness,” the Pope explained. He continued:
“This is the new law, what we call the ‘Beatitudes.’ It is the Lord’s new law for us. They are the guidebook, the itinerary, they are the navigators of the Christian life. We are able to see on this road by the indications displayed on this navigation system, and we can go forward in our Christian life.”
Three steps to perdition
Pope Francis “complemented” his homily on St. Matthew’s account of the Sermon on the Mount with a consideration of the “four woes” recorded by St. Luke in his parallel text: “Woe to you that are rich … Woe to you that are full now … Woe to you that laugh now … Woe to you, when all men speak well of you” (Luke 6:24-26).
The Pope recalled in a special way having said “many times” that “riches are good.” What is harmful, he said, is “the attachment to riches,” which is “a form of idolatry.” He said:
“This is the anti-law, it is a navigation system full of mistakes. It is interesting: these are the three little steps that lead to perdition, just as the Beatitudes are the steps that lead us forward in life. And these three little steps which lead to perdition are attachment to riches, because [it leads me to the illusion that] I don’t need anything. Vanity, that all speak well of me: everyone speaks well, I feel important, too much incense … and I believe I am righteous — not like this one, that one… We think of the parable of the Pharisee and the tax-collector: ‘I thank you that I am not like this one…’. Or ‘thank you, Lord, that I am such a good Catholic, not like this neighbor, or that neighbor …’. This happens every day … The second is vanity, and the third is the pride that is a fullness, the laughter that closes the heart.”
Is Meekness the Key?
Among all of the Beatitudes, Pope Francis selected one, saying: “I am not saying it is the key,” to all of them, “but it makes me think a lot”: “Blessed are the meek.” Regarding meekness, the Pope concluded:
“Jesus says of himself: ‘Learn from me for I am meek of heart’, I am meek and humble of heart. Meekness is a way of being which conforms us very much to Jesus. On the other hand, the contrary attitude always procures enmities, wars … so many things, so many bad things that happen. But gentleness, meekness of heart which is not foolishness, no: it is something else. It is the depth of understanding the greatness of God and adoration.”