Early in the Book of Matthew, Jesus gives the Sermon on the Mount. This scene is shown in almost every movie of the life of Jesus, from “The Greatest Story Ever Told” to “Monty Python’s Life of Brian.” The sermon begins with the Beatitudes, or blessings.
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are they that have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye when [men] shall reproach you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
The similar Sermon on the Plains contains some of the Beatitudes, but also the Four Woes.
Taken as a whole, many scholars believe that the Sermon on the Mount is the essence of Christian teachings; life based on love and mercy instead of violence and greed. Even many people with no religious beliefs have stated that the Beatitudes are a good way to lead your life.
What is interesting is that the Beatitudes contain none of the usual requirements found in religions; no sacrifices, no gathering in certain places at certain times, no avoiding certain foods, no hating particular groups of people; they can be seen as universal.