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Pope Francis' focus is on the beatitudes not on a punishing God. Photo by: Getty

At last a pope who gets what Catholicism is all about!

\"Pope

Pope Francis' focus is on the beatitudes not on a punishing God. Photo by: Getty

Speaking of the beatitudes this week at his public audience  at the Vatican Pope Francis stated "remember them and impress them on our hearts."

He also  gave the crowd of thousands "homework," asking them to spend time reading them.
At last a pope who gets what Catholicism is all about!

It is not just the stern ten commandments and the “Thou shalt not” but also the  beauty of lines such as “Blessed are the meek.”

Here are the eight as per Matthews gospel:

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall possess the land.
Blessed are they who mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Wonderful stuff: as the pope pointed out “The beatitudes are not only "the path God indicates as his response to the desire for happiness present in each person and the perfection of the (Ten) Commandments," he said; they also are "a portrait of Jesus and his way of life."

This pope gets it in the most fundamental way -- he understands th eneed for people to love adn reach out rather than make judgements.

"At the end of the world, we will be judged," he said. "And what will the questions be that the judge will ask?" They are listed in Matthew 25: 35-36: Did you feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, care for the sick and visit the prisoner?

"Today, your task is to read the fifth chapter of Matthew where the beatitudes are, and also to read the 25th chapter where the questions are that we will be asked on judgment day," he said.

No one, he said, is so important or has done so many other virtuous things that he or she can escape being asked the questions in Matthew 25. "The Lord will recognize us if we have recognized his face in the face of the hungry, the poor, the marginalized, the sick and the lonely. These are fundamental criteria for verifying our Christian life."

"I read the beatitudes and think about how my life as a Christian should be," the pope said, "and then, I make an examination of conscience with this 25th chapter from Matthew. Every day I ask, 'Did I do this? Did I do that? That?"

"They make our Christian life a beautiful and credible witness to the love of God for all the brothers and sisters we meet each day."

A great pope who understands the sinner and the striver.

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