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Father Muench Says...

Beatitudes: valuable guide for teenagers

October 29, 2014

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

For the last few weeks, we have been considering the Beatitudes of Jesus.  I am sure you will remember that the Beatitudes were Jesus’ message for us on our path to happiness. Now I was wondering whether these beatitudes will make any sense to young people – to teenagers.  So, I invite you to join me as we consider this.

“Blessed are the poor in Spirit.” 
We must show our young people that their lack of knowledge and understanding of Jesus is a real poverty.  They have heard a great deal about Jesus in the homilies at Mass and in religious education classes, yet, I believe that most of them have not established a real relationship with Jesus. That is a poverty.

You cannot accept or reject Jesus unless you really know him and have a good relationship with him.  The solution to this poverty, I think, it to read the New Testament – the whole New Testament – slowly and prayerfully and establish a real relationship and friendship with Jesus.

“Blessed are those who mourn.”
Teenagers are going through a time of huge choices and this demands a time to mourn.  Their life is going through sudden changes, radical changes.  This can be a time of sadness. 

The simplicity of the early years is slipping away – life is becoming more complicated with lots of new decisions to be made. 

Teens should be unafraid to mourn, to experience a prayerful mourning time.  This will be a step of moving into the adult world.  In this way, they will adopt a new strength, a strength of Spirit that only God can give, a new dedication to trust God to guide them.

“Blessed are the meek.” 
This beatitude will seem rather unattractive to young people.  Their world teaches them that to be successful demands being daring and challenging.  Yet, they will discover – as we all have – that there are too many road blocks along life’s way.  Such crises can disrupt a young person’s life.  I believe the way for Christians to deal with these moments is with humility like that of Jesus.  Jesus met the most difficult challenges in life – his passion and death – with humility.  This humility gave him a strength – God’s strength.  Young people will need this kind of strength – God’s strength – that come from humility, patience and meekness – to meet the crises in life.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.”
Young people are enthusiastic, even excited, about things that make sense to them.  It is part of being young.  I believe that when young people really know Jesus and his message that they will be enthusiastic about living in the Spirit of Jesus.

They realize how good and happy life can be by living a good life according to the teachings of Jesus.  May they find that righteousness and pursue it with enthusiasm.

“Blessed are the merciful.”
I have discovered that young people care about each other – especially their friends – especially if they are hurting.  They know about being merciful. 

I pray that they discover that the following of Jesus is all about mercy.  Jesus was well known for his mercy. Like Jesus, we are called to be just as merciful, just as caring.  As a follower, a Christian finds help and guidance in being merciful.  It changes helping others into a spiritual act of mercy.

“Blessed are the clean of heart”
To find happiness and peace, to become a good person and life a good life demands a heart and mind that is free from distracting evil.  That is why Jesus encourages us to be positive – positive in attitudes and positive in life.
Young people may and will meet others who bring negative attitudes into their relationship, an attitude filled with guile, even hate.  Jesus must become their guide and strength.  Jesus teaches us all, especially our young people, that developing a pure heart, a clean heart and mind, a happy tone in life, leads to personal happiness and truly touches the lives of others.

“Blessed are peacemakers.”
Young people will find a real purpose in life as a peacemaker.  Being a peacemaker does not mean walking around breaking up fights.  Being a peacemaker is all about knowing how to live properly, without anxiety, with a desire to make the world happier, more peaceful. This is only possible through prayer.  Young people must learn the importance of prayer.  A person of prayer knows what to do, to live a better life, to make things better with the strength and support of the Lord.  A person of prayer and peace know they can trust God and live committed to the Lord.  A young person certainly can be such a person of prayer and bring Christ’s peace to their world. So, indeed, the Beatitudes can be a very good guide for our people – our teenagers.    

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