XIV. Pope Benedict clarifies that the Beatitudes do not represent some kind of contrast to the Ten Commandments, a new way to God; Jesus always insists that the Commandments remain valid and a sure guide to God’s will. Rather, the Beatitudes are consolation and hope for the reality of suffering and challenge when we strive to live by God’s will rather than the world’s values. “Blessed” are those who find this admittedly paradoxical way and persevere, for it leads to joy the world cannot give and thus cannot take away.
The Beatitudes are not abstract and theoretical concepts; they describe the actual life of a disciple, first lived out by Jesus Himself. All of the Beatitudes apply first to Jesus – poor, meek, a man of sorrows, merciful, upright, peace-making, persecuted. Thus they are a road-map for any disciple of Jesus.
The poverty commended here is not mere want to earthly goods, but the humble trust it can generate, a sign that our treasure is not found in created things but in the love of God. “Mary and Joseph, Simeon and Anna, Zachariah and Elizabeth, the shepherds of Bethlehem, and the Twelve are all part of this current” (p. 75). The poor in spirit come with openness, trust, and gratitude to receive what God wills to give, rather than with pride and cunning to take what they desire. They contrast the culture of inner freedom in God with the culture of affluence; they mirror other words of Jesus, Who came not to be served but to serve.