The seventh Beatitude is “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Peace in this context is not of a passing feeling. Nor is it only an absence of hostile words, détente. Rather, “It is an authentic Christian virtue, that is, the power of God radiating through the believer and inclining him to spread the peace of Christ around him.” Realizing that the Beatitudes build upon each other, a covenantal couple that is detached, meek, desiring of God’s will, merciful, and chaste will be able to find comfort in their mourning and be a source of authentic peace to those around them. Shalom will flow from their hearts, which is evidence of being a child of God.
The eight and ninth Beatitudes tie together and are, “ Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.” This Beatitude, like mourning, seems contradictory at face value. As in the case of mourning, it is hard to see where happiness fits in with being reviled and persecuted, especially for the married. Yet, as is often the case, when a couple sets out on the path of living according to the mind of Christ, persecutions invariably arise. Fr. Montague has it correct when he writes, “Since what causes persecution is most often not the creed and content but rather its consequent life-style, which others find threatening to their values.” Family and friends accustomed to living according to the world’s values are threatened when they encounter a couple making very different choices. Certain restaurants and entertainments are no longer suitable, either because of content or conflicts with other time commitments more suitable for family life. In our home, football watching has become curtailed. Not because it is necessarily bad but because it conflicts with other choices more in line with our desire to follow God’s will.
Zelie & Louis Martin demonstrated this beatitude of following God’s will and meeting hostility. They eschewed the immodest entertainments of French society as they deemed those activities out of line with God’s will for their family. Louis & Zelie Martin also observed a modest attitude towards clothing. Though they did not dress their daughters in rags, as that would have been inappropriate for their station in life, they also did not dress extravagantly. This was at odds with their contemporaries. To avoid an extravagant wedding, which would have been the norm and which they could have afforded, they married at midnight. This is not to say all couples should get married at midnight. Rather, the Martins demonstrated a sensitivity of doing all things in the light of Christ, regardless of criticism from others.
What about those spouses who are unjustly cast aside and are in a desperate situation? Perhaps a wife has been abandoned, after being at home for many years and still has numerous children to raise. These spouses, under the prudent care of a wise spiritual director, can also find solace in this Beatitude. Fr. Morgenroth puts it well, “To suffer for the sake of the deserter can hardly be considered a strict obligation, but it may well be a call from God. It would be, for the abandoned spouse, a share in the vocation of contemplatives in the expiation on behalf of others.” The attitude of the neglected spouse who embraces the Beatitudes acts within a spirit of poverty. I have heard a noted psychologist recommended this course of action on occasion, especially, if children are involved. In the end, bearing wrongs patiently is the only path that happiness has a chance of occurring.
Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, shows married couples how to have a blessed marriage characterized by peace. He shows us that the kingdom of heaven is not only to be fully realized in heaven but actually begins on earth, in one of the most important relationship marriage. “The coming of the kingdom is the beginning of paradise, the union of creation and redemption, the final realization of what God intended from the beginning.” The kingdom of God takes root in those homes where His will is considered and embraced. To embrace the Beatitudes requires one to be, “sustained by the Holy Spirit, [as] we tread them step by step by every day acts.” Couples who step out in faith along this path will find how richly blessed they are by Jesus’ wise counsel. These homes will have built on firm Rock able to withstand the storms of life. This marriage is blessed and filled with the Lord’s peace.
*NB: Julia & Thomas chose Mat 5:1-12a for the Gospel reading at their Nuptial Mass for their Sacrament of Matrimony a week ago today. Deo gratis.