Pope Francis on February 17, 2019, spoke of the Beatitudes as presented in the sixth chapter of Luke, reminding listeners that they come with warnings.
His comments came before praying the noonday Angelus with the crowd of pilgrims from around the world gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
“The text is articulated in four beatitudes and four warnings formulated with the expression ‘woe to you.’ With these strong and incisive words, Jesus opens our eyes and makes us see with His look, beyond appearances, beyond the surface, and He teaches us to discern situations with faith,” Pope Francis said.
He explained that Christ first presented a list of those who are blessed: the poor, the hungry, the afflicted, and the persecuted. But Jesus also gave a list of those who rate a “woe to you” – a warning: then rich, the full, those who laugh at others who suffer, and those acclaimed by the people.
“The reason for this paradoxical beatitude lies in the fact that God is close to those that suffer and He intervenes to free them from their slavery,” the Holy Father said. “Jesus sees this; He already sees the beatitude beyond the negative reality. And, equally, the ‘woe to you,’ addressed to all those that today are having a good time, serves to ‘awaken’ them from the dangerous deceit of egoism and open them to the logic of love, while they still have time to do so.”
The Pope continued by suggesting that the day’s Gospel – the Beatitudes – invites the faithful to reflect on the “profound meaning of having faith.” It means putting aside “worldly idols” and trusting God.
“Idolatry and idols seem like things of other times, but in reality, they are of all times! — also of today,” Francis stressed. “They describe some contemporary attitudes better than many sociological analyses.
“Jesus’ Beatitudes are a decisive message, which spurs us not to put our trust in material and passing things; not to seek happiness following vendors of smoke – who so often are vendors of death — professionals of illusion. It’s not necessary to follow them, because they are incapable of giving us hope. The Lord helps us to open our eyes, to acquire a more penetrating look on reality, to be healed from our chronic myopia, with which the worldly spirit infects us. He shakes us with His paradoxical Word and makes us recognize what really enriches us, fills us, gives us joy and dignity, in sum, what really gives meaning and fullness to our life.”
The Holy Father’s Full Commentary