The Beatitudes And The Cross By Fulton Sheen

The Beatitudes And The Cross By Fulton Sheen

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The Sermon on the Mount is so much at variance with all that our world holds dear that the world will crucify anyone who tries to live up to its values. Because Christ preached them, He had to die. Calvary was the price He paid for the Sermon on the Mount. Only mediocrity survives. Those who call black black, and white, are sentenced for intolerance. Only the grays live.

Let Him Who says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” come into the world that believes in the primacy of the economic; let Him stand in the market place where some men live for collective profit, or where others say men live for individual profit, and see what happens. He will be so poor that during life He will have nowhere to lay His head; a day will come when He will die without anything of economic worth. In His last hour He will be so impoverished that they will strip Him of His garments and even give Him a stranger’s grave for His burial, as He had a stranger’s stable for His birth.

Let Him come into the world which proclaims the gospel of the strong, which advocates hating our enemies, which condemns Christian virtues as the “soft” virtues, and say to that world, “Blessed are the patient,” and He will one day feel the scourges of the strong barbarians laid across His back; He will be struck on the cheek by a mocking fist during one of His trials; He will see men take a sickle and cut the grass from a hill on Calvary, and then use a hammer to pinion Him to a Cross to test the patience of One Who endures the worst that evil has to offer, that having exhausted itself it might eventually turn to Love.

Let him come into our world which ridicules the idea of sin as morbidity, considers reparation for past guilt as a guilt complex and preach to that world, “Blessed are they who mourn” for their sins; and He will be blindfolded and mocked as a fool. They will take His Body and scourge it, until His bones can be numbered; they will crown His head with thorns, until He begins to weep not salt tears but crimson beads of blood, as they laugh at the weakness of Him Who will not come down from the Cross. Let Him come into the world which denies Absolute Truth, which says that right and wrong are only questions of point of view, that we must be broadminded about virtue and vice, and let Him say to them, “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after holiness,” that is, after the Absolute, after the Truth which “I am”; and they will in their broad-mindedness give the mob the choice of Him or Barabbas; they will crucify Him with thieves, and try to make the world believe that God is no different from a batch of robbers who are His bedfellows in death.

Let him come into a world which says that “my neighbor is hell,” that all which is opposite me is nothing, that the ego alone matters, that my will is supreme law, that what I decide is good, that I must forget others and think only of myself, and say to them, “Blessed are the merciful.” He will find that He will receive no mercy; they will open five streams of blood out of His Body; they will pour vinegar and gall into His thirsting mouth; and, even after His death, be so merciless as to plunge a spear into His Sacred Heart. Let Him come into a world which tries to interpret man in terms of sex; which regards purity as coldness, chastity as frustrated sex, self containment as abnormality, and the union of husband and wife until death as boredom; which says that a marriage endures only so long as the glands endure, that one may unbind what God binds and unseal what God seals. Say to them, “Blessed are the pure”; and He will find Himself hanging naked on a Cross, made a spectacle to men and angels in a last wild crazy affirmation that purity is abnormal, that the virgins are neurotics, and that carnality is right.

Let Him come into a world which believes that one must resort to every manner of chicanery and duplicity in order to conquer the world, carrying doves of peace with stomachs full of bombs, say to them, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” or “Blessed are they who eradicate sin that there may be peace”; and He will find Himself surrounded by men engaged in the silliest of all wars- a war against the Son of God; making violence with steel and wood, pinions and gall and then setting a watch over His grave that He who lost the battle might not win the day.

Let Him come into a world that believes that our whole life should be geared to flattering and influencing people for the sake of utility and popularity, and say to them: “Blessed are you when men hate, persecute, and revile you”; and He will find Himself without a friend in the world, an outcast on a hill, with mobs shouting His death, and His flesh hanging from Him like purple rags.

The Beatitudes cannot be taken alone: they are not ideals; they are hard facts and realities inseparable from the Cross of Calvary.

What He taught was self-crucifixion: to love those who hate us; to pluck out eyes and cut off arms in order to prevent sinning; to be clean on the inside when the passions clamor for satisfaction on the outside; to forgive those who would put us to death; to overcome evil with good; to bless those who curse us; to stop mouthing freedom until we have justice, truth and love of God in our hearts as the condition of freedom; to live in the world and still keep oneself unpolluted from it; to deny ourselves sometimes legitimate pleasures in order the better to crucify our egotism-all this is to sentence the old man in us to death.

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