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The Beatitudes and Our Families: The merciful, the pure of heart, the peacemakers

Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.

Matthew 5: 7-9


We know what it means to be merciful. We know what it means to be a peacemaker. The “pure in heart” is a bit slippery. My mind goes to the hearts of children. Children are not saints, as a rule, and are capable of all kinds of mischief, even cruelty. But still, I tend to think that children are naturally pure of heart.

Putting these three beatitudes together and thinking about our families, perhaps we can reflect on forgiveness. Forgiveness is an act of mercy. Making peace requires forgiveness. Being pure of heart makes it easier to forgive. Remembering that children (relatively speaking!) are pure of heart, perhaps we can be moved to forgive their misbehavior.

During Lent, we think about Jesus on the cross. “Father,” Jesus said, “forgive them, for they know not what they do.” At the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches us. And Father James Martin writes, “Even on the cross, Jesus is teaching us.”

When we claim the right to be angry and resentful; and when we have trouble forgiving, we can recall that if anyone had the right to be angry, resentful, and unforgiving, it would have been Jesus on the cross. And yet: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

When our family members hurt us, or engage in bad behavior, we certainly should hold them accountable. But ultimately, we must find our way to mercy. We try to remember the purity of their hearts. We reconcile with one another and make peace.

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