The Eight Beatitudes,
Engraving by Hendrick Goltzius (1558–1617),
Published in 1578,
Engraving on paper
© Metropolitan Museum, New York
Jesus went up the hill, and taught: happy are those...
Seeing the crowds, Jesus went up the hill. There he sat down and was joined by his disciples. Then he began to speak. This is what he taught them:
'How happy are the poor in spirit; theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Happy the gentle: they shall have the earth for their heritage.
Happy those who mourn: they shall be comforted.
Happy those who hunger and thirst for what is right: they shall be satisfied.
Happy the merciful: they shall have mercy shown them.
Happy the pure in heart: they shall see God.
Happy the peacemakers: they shall be called sons of God.
Happy those who are persecuted in the cause of right: theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
'Happy are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven: this is how they persecuted the prophets before you.'
Reflection on the engraving
Jesus knows that, deep down in each of us, our greatest desire is to be happy. We long for a deep, permanent happiness. However, we often just settle for more immediate moments of temporary happiness provided by the world. Jesus in this reading wants us to seek eternal happiness. In order to achieve that, he gave us the Beatitudes as a clear roadmap. Jesus is giving us a portrait of ideal discipleship. And we desire what Jesus wants of us, and deep down we know that we want it. Who would not want to be a peacemaker, or merciful or pure in heart!
Our engraving from 1578 by Hendrick Golzius depicts the Beatitudes in the borders, with in each corner a depiction of one of the the Four Evangelists. The central scene is Jesus delivering the Sermon on the Mount. Just in the one engraving Golzius manages to visualise Jesus' teaching, using everyday life scenes to illustrate the Beatitudes.
As Jesus didn't just list these 'happy are's', but actually lived them throughout his life, he communicates here his own interior landscape and heart. The Beatitudes can shape us and reconfigure our interior lives. On 6 January 2016 Pope Francis said: 'This is the new law, the one we call 'the Beatitudes'. It's the Lord's new law for us… the roadmap for Christian life which gives us the indications to move forward on the right path.'
Share this Gospel Reading
Did you like this Gospel reading and art reflection?
Join in the discussion about this artwork & Gospel reading
Readings related to Matthew 5:1-12
Join our community
In addition to receiving our Daily Gospel Reading and Art Reflection, signing up for a free membership allows you to: