THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT: THE DIVINE BEATITUDES OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST TO THE WORLD

My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,

CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.

THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT: THE DIVINE BEATITUDES OF
OUR LORD, AND GOD, AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST TO THE
WORLD.

"Then He opened His mouth and
taught them, saying:

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the Kingdom of
heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the
earth.

Blessed are those who
hunger and thirst for
righteousness,
For they shall be filled.

Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure of heart;
For they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons
of God.

Blessed are those who are
persecuted for
righteousness sake
For theirs is the Kingdom
of heaven.

Blessed are you when they revile
and persecute you, and say all
kinds of evil against you falsely
for My sake.

Rejoice and be exceedingly glad,
for great is your reward in heaven,
for so they persecuted the prophets
who were before you."
[Matthew 5:2-12]

Gospel Reading:
Sunday of Saint John Klimakos (Matthew 4:23-5:13, Gk, usage]

Saint Peter of Damascus writes: "We ought to repudiate every dream and every idle word or action. We should ever meditate on God’s name, in every place and in all that we do as something more precious than breath itself. We should sincerely abase ourselves before God, WITHDRAWING THE INTELLECT FROM ALL WORLDLY THOUGHTS, SEEKING ONLY THAT GOD’S WILL MAY BE DONE. The intellect will then begin to see that its faults are like the grains of sand of the sea. This IS THE COMMENCEMENT OF OUR SOUL’S ILLUMINATION AND SIGN OF ITS HEALTH. THE SOUL BECOMES CONTRITE AND THE HEART BECOMES HUMBLE, AND TRULY REGARDS ITSELF AS THE LEAST OF ALL THINGS. Then we begin to understand God’s blessings, whether particular or all-embracing, of which the Holy Scripture speaks; and we begin to understand also our own offenses. We START IN KEEPING ALL THE COMMANDMENTS, FROM THE FIRST TO THE LAST, FULLY AWARE OF WHA WE ARE DOING. For the Lord has established them like A LADDER, AND WE CANNOT MISS ONE RUNG AND GO ON TO THE NEXT: AS WITH STEPS, WE MUST GO FROM THE FIRST TO THE SECOND, FROM THE SECOND TO THE THIRD, AND SO ON. In the end, they make man a god, through the grace of Him Who has given the Commandments to those who CHOOSE TO KEEP THEM."

"BLESSED ARE THE POOR IN SPIRIT, FOR THEIRS IS THE KINGDOM OF
THE HEAVENS" (Mt. 5:3).

Saint Peter of Damascus states: "Blessed are the poor in spirit", that is, those who quail with fear of God and are inexpressibly contrite in soul. For the Lord has established this as the basic commandment, knowing that without this even living in heaven would be profitless, for one would still possess the same madness through which the devil, Adam, and many others have fallen."

Saint John Chrysostom comments: "What is meant by the "poor in spirit"? The humble and contrite mind. For by spirit herein He speaks of the soul and the faculty of choice. For since many are humble involuntarily, but forced under circumstances, He lets these pass (for this is no matter of praise), and calls them happy first who by choice humble and restrain themselves. And on what account does He not say ‘the humble’ but ‘the poor’? For this is more than that. He means those who are awestruck and tremble at the commandments of God… By this, He has prepared a suitable remedy TO THE DISEASE OF PRIDE, since the greatest of evils and those which injured the whole world had their entering in FROM PRIDE.

"BLESSED ARE THEY WHO MOURN, FOR THEY SHALL BE COMFORTED" (Mt. 5:4).

Saint Gregory of Nyssa writes: "There is more than one kind of sorrow, and so says Saint Paul: "For the sorrow in accordance with God works out repentance to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world worketh out death" [2 Corinthians 7:10]. For surely if a soul bewails its wicked life because it feels its bad effects, such suffering cannot be excluded from the sorrow that is called blessed…We should not think it a loss to be deprived of some of the pleasant things of this life, but rather to lose the better things for the sake of enjoying the others."

Saint Ephraim the Syrian states: "Mourn, repent, turn to Me," is what the Lord is saying. ‘I shall give thee rest, there, where there is neither pain, nor weeping, nor concerns, nor cares, nor lamenting. Turn to me, O sons of men. I shall give thee rest where there is "neither male and female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28).

Saint John Klimakos says, "The fount of tears after Baptism has become greater than Baptism, though this be a bold saying." But REPENTANCE IS THE FRUIT OF BAPTISMAL GRACE. THE GIFT OF TEARS IS THE INFALLIBLE SIGN THAT THE HEART HAS BEEN OVERWHELMED BY THE LOVE OF GOD. "When our soul departs from life," says Saint John of the Ladder, "we shall not be accused because we have not worked miracles, or have not been theologians, or have not seen visions, but we shall all certainly have to give an account before God because we have not wept unceasingly on account of our sins." The spiritual gift of these tears not only consummates repentance but ALSO PRODUCES THE FIRSTFRUITS OF INFINITE JOY."

"BLESSED ARE THE MEEK, FOR THEY SHALL INHERIT THE EARTH" (Mt. 5:5).

Saint Maximos the Confessor writes: "The person who with the clear eye of faith beholds the beauty of the blessings of the age to be readily OBEYS THE COMMAND TO LEAVE HIS COUNTRY AND HIS KINDRED AND HIS FATHER’S HOUSE; AND HE ABANDONS THE FLESH, THE SENSES, AND SENSORY THINGS, TOGETHER WITH PASSIONATE ATTACHMENTS AND INCLINATIONS. In times of temptations and conflict," he rises above nature because he has put the Cause of nature first, just as Abraham put God before Isaac."

Saint Jerome wrote: "He does not mean the land of Judaea or the land of this world, not the accursed land that brings forth thorns and thistles. For the cruelest warrior can possess that land. Rather, he means the land that the psalmist desires: ‘I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living" (Psalm 26:16). One who possesses land in this way and who triumphs after the victory is described in another psalm to prosper and reign on account of truth and meekness and justice. For here below people possess land not through meekness, but THROUGH ARROGANCE.

"BLESSED ARE THEY WHO HUNGER AND THIRST AFTER RIGHTEOUSNESS, FOR THEY SHALL BE FILLED" (Mt. 5:6).

Saint Gregory of Nyssa writes: "If the Logos/Word calls blessed the hunger of those who desire righteousness, He includes in this every other form OF VIRTUE, such as FORTITUDE, OR TEMPERANCE… None of the things that are covered in this life for the sake of pleasure will satisfy those who run after them… Therefore, we learn from the Lord this sublime doctrine that the only truly and solidly existing thing is our zeal for virtue… As for those who waste their lives in absurd lusts, even if their soul should constantly be occupied with licentiousness, yet it will not always be able to enjoy it. For satiety stops the greed of the glutton, and the drinker’s pleasure is quenched at the same time as his thirst. These all require a certain interval of time to rekindle the desire for the delights, which enjoyment carried to satiety has caused to flag.

"The possession of virtue on the other hand, where it is once firmly established, is neither circumscribed by time nor limited by satiety. It always offers its disciples the ever-fresh experience of the fullness of its own delights. Therefore, God the Logos/Word promises TO THOSE WHO HUNGER FOR THESE THINGS THAT THEY SHALL BE FILLED."

"BLESSED ARE THE MERCIFUL, FOR THEY SHALL FIND MERCY" (Mt. 5:7).

Saint Mark the Ascetic states: "Just as thought is made manifest through actions and words, so is our future reward through the impulses of the heart. Thus a merciful heart will receive mercy, while a merciless heart will receive the opposite."

Saint John Chrysostom writes: "Herein He seems to me to speak of those who show mercy not only by means of money but ALSO THROUGH THEIR ACTIONS. Manifold are the ways to show mercy, and this commandment is broad. What then is the prize? ‘They shall find mercy.’ The recompense seems to be equal, but it is a far greater accomplishment. Now whereas they showed mercy as men, they find mercy from the God of all. The mercy of man that of God IS NOT THE SAME THING, BUT IS AS WIDE AS THE INTERVAL BETWEEN EVIL AND GOODNESS, SO FAR IS THE ONE REMOVED FROM THE OTHER."

Saint Jerome says, "Mercy is understood not only in almsgiving but in every sin of a brother. For we are to carry the burdens of one another."

[Source: The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church]

(To be continued)

________________

"Glory Be To GOD
For
All Things!"

– Saint John Chrysostomos

+ + +

With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+ Father George

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