To receive the blessings that Jesus mentions in the Beatitudes and to rise above the “woes” that he warns about, we have to set our hearts on what pertains to the higher realms, “what is above,” as St. Paul mentioned.
Are we a new creation or not? When you were baptized, you were made holy, a new creation that was different from the solely human, sin-prone life into which you had been born. But that’s not enough!
When we make a conscious decision to allow Jesus to be the Lord of our lives, our baptisms became more than a sacrament. They became a way of living. Every time we make this decision, Jesus takes our self-centered lifestyles and our reliance on worldly wisdom and carries it to the cross of 2000 years ago — God does a time warp! And then he raises us to new life in the Easter power of his heaven-filled life.
Just because it doesn’t feel or look like we’re experiencing a heaven-filled life doesn’t mean that we’re not. Heaven is within us until we physically die, at which time we’ll enter into the fullness of heaven (first purging out any remnant impurities, a process called “purgatory”). When the Father raised Jesus from the tomb, he took us with him! (There’s that time warp again.) Our bodies have not yet received this blessing and our souls are not yet in heaven, but heaven is in our souls.
Everything we long for from God is already ours. If it doesn’t seem so, the reason you can’t feel it or see it is because you’re approaching it from old ways, non-Christian ways, deadly ways. You’re reacting with your flesh nature (your woundedness or your sinful tendencies), which belongs to this world, instead of with your soul, which belongs to heaven. Rather than react (i.e., “re-act”) in old ways, act with Christ.
Look at Paul’s checklist of what’s worldly. Any of these that are still alive in us can be put to death by making the conscious decision to do its opposite and imitate Jesus: How we speak to others, how we speak about others, how we seek love from others, how we solve problems, how we get work done, how we participate in the Church, etc., can either be deadly or put to death in exchange for new life.
The immoral habit, for example, of gossiping can be replaced by praying for those we feel tempted to gossip about. Anger, fury, and malice can be replaced by doing a good deed for the one who’s irritated us. Obscene language and lying can be replaced by taking a vow of silence except when speaking words that heal or uplift.
The choice is ours. Are we going to accept the life of Christ as our own or will we take the self-centered, very unheavenly path? We always have the choice. If we react to our circumstances, we’re enslaved to the fallen humanity of our flesh nature, but when we stop, pray, discern and act with Christ, we become free to experience our baptized divine nature, which is the glory of the risen Christ.