In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus laid out many of the qualities he hopes his followers will embody, including mercy, meekness and cleanness of heart. In offering these hopes, Jesus was speaking not only to the people of his time but to each of us today. There is much to be gained from revisiting these always-relevant words of wisdom. Yet the modern age represents distinct challenges, so Pope Francis, during his recent trip to Sweden, offered some additions to the Gospel lists of beatitudes to remind us that we are called “to confront the troubles and anxieties of our age with the spirit and love of Jesus.”
Each new beatitude offers a specific example of a person serving as “a messenger of God’s mercy,” a much needed example in our time: “Blessed are those who remain faithful while enduring evils inflicted on them by others and forgive them from their heart. Blessed are those who look into the eyes of the abandoned and marginalized and show them their closeness. Blessed are those who see God in every person and strive to make others also discover him. Blessed are those who protect and care for our common home. Blessed are those who renounce their own comfort in order to help others. Blessed are those who pray and work for full communion between Christians.”
The updated beatitudes remind us that the Gospel is not a static rule book to be read and followed but a way of proceeding that must be lived in the context of the modern world.