The Beatitudes are presented in the Book of Matthew, and they represent one of the most important messages Jesus Christ delivered in the so-called sermon on the mountain. They remained in history because their essence has a totally different moral content. The teachings found in this passage from Matthew are strikingly contrasting what the pragmatic world teaches and embraces as value. Because of this, some psychologists, in particular those who follow Freud's paradigm consider Jesus and those who apply His teachings to be mentally unbalanced, and they consider the Beatitudes as being a form of masochism. But, don't these teachings have any validity at all? Why does Jesus consider happy those who mourn, or those who are poor, or even those who have a clean heart?
The surrounding reality offers some arguments, which are in favor of Jesus' teachings. The persons whom Jesus considers to be happy or even lucky are not exactly what the world today is promoting. These days everyone wants to live "the American dream" of having money, power, fame, a perfect family, and everything they ever dreamed. These people are not poor or calm, but are those who are best adapted to the society. They are expected to be the most happy, but the reality shows something different. Hollywood stars or intellectuals such as Bertrand Russell, Jean-Paul Sartre, Edmund Wilson, etc., who are considered successful by any modern standard, gather so much egocentric obsession and unhappiness that one could hardly find anywhere else.
On the other hand, those who are poor know that they desperately need salvation, and they do acknowledge their dependency on God and other people. Therefore, they are rarely alone because they are always searching for God and for the companionship of other people. They invest in people and not in acquiring things. They are capable of waiting, because they have gained the ability to be patient. Their fears are much more realistic and less exaggerated because they now know that man can survive over great needs and suffering. They are not more virtuous than the rest of the people, but the probability that they pretend to be so is lower. They have all the chances to turn to God every day, because they are so dependent on Him. And He promises in the Bible to make them happy, as no other things or achievements ever could.
Furthermore, Jesus calls happy those who have a clean heart. Today's society promotes immorality and sexual promiscuity, and since the Sexual Revolution from the '60s, pornography has gained more and more ground. People have become addicted to it, and promiscuity ruins families and homes. Mental guilt overwhelms a lot of people who are now addicted to psychotherapy. But, God promises that those who have a clean heart and a pure mind will see His face, which means the taste of real love and freedom and sheer happiness.
Another category of blessed people is those who are merciful. People today are individualistic and egocentric, and they have little time to spend on others' needs. Henry Nouwen was a teacher at the Harvard University, but he later moved to a little town called Daybreak, near Toronto. He moved there in order to help a twenty-five years old man who couldn't speak, nor eat, nor dress himself. He had a severe form of epilepsy. Many journalists asked him why he renounced to his fame and power, but he answered that he didn't lose anything. He actually gained everything, because he feels more inner peace and happiness in helping his friend than he did while he was a successful teacher.
Another reason why these teachings are not considered a form of masochism is the fact that they have great promises attached to them. While they bring contentment and joy in the present, they also promise to bring rewards in the future. Jesus promises that those who mourn will be comforted by God himself, those who are mild will rule the Earth one day, and those who are persecuted for their beliefs will gain the Kingdom of Heaven.
To conclude, the Beatitudes are valid even in the present society where opposite values are promoted. Those who dedicate their lives to serve others and also have chances to do something totally different like "living the American dream" choose, without an eye blink, to live mercifully, and are even persecuted for their faith.