Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Fourth Beatitude - Blessed are they that do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled ( Law of God )

Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are those people who deeply acknowledge their sinfulness, their guilt before God, and have a burning desire for righteousness. They try to serve God by a righteous life according to the commandments of Christ, which requires from Christians the most holy righteousness in all their relations with their neighbors.

The expression "hunger and thirst" indicates that our yearning for righteousness must be very strong, as strong as our desire to appease our appetite and thirst. King David beautifully expressed such yearning, As the hart panteth after the fountains of water, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsted for God, the mighty the living (Ps. 4:1-2).

God promised that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled. By this is meant spiritual satisfaction, comprised of internal spiritual peace, a calm conscience, justification, and forgiveness. Such satisfaction in the present, earthly life occurs only in part. The Lord reveals the mysteries of His kingdom to those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, more than to others. Their hearts in this world are delighted with knowledge revealed in the divine truths of the Gospel, in Orthodox teachings.

Full satiety, full satisfaction of the holy yearnings of the human soul, and from this highest joy and blessedness, will be granted them in the future, blessed life with God. As the psalmist King David says, I shall be filled when Thy glory is made manifest to me (Ps. 16:16).

The Third Beatitude - Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. ( Law of God )

Meekness is peaceful, fully developed Christian love, free from all malice. It is manifested in the spirit of a man who never becomes angry, and never permits himself to grumble against God or people.

Meek people do not become irritated and they do not vex or aggravate other people. Christian meekness expresses itself mainly in patient endurance of insults inflicted by others and is the opposite of anger, malice, self-exaltation and vengeance.

A meek person always regrets the hardness of heart of the offending party. He desires his correction, prays to God for forgiveness of his deeds, remembering the precept of the Apostle: // it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord (Romans 12:18-19).

The best example of meekness given to us is that of our Lord Jesus Christ praying on the cross for His enemies. He taught us to not take vengeance on our enemies but to do good to them. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls (Matt. 11:29). Meekness tames even the hardest hearts. We can be convinced of this by observing the lives of people, and we find confirmation of it throughout the history of Christian persecutions.

A Christian may become angry only with himself, at his own fall into sin, and at the tempter — the Devil.

The Lord promises the meek that they will inherit the earth. This promise indicates that meek people in the present life will be preserved on earth by the power of God, in spite of all the intrigues of men and the most cruel persecution. But in the future life, they will be heirs of the heavenly homeland, the new earth (II Peter 3:13) with its eternal blessings.

The Second Beatitude - Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted ( Law of God )

Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.

The weeping about which the second beatitude speaks is first of all true tribulation of heart, and repentant tears for our sins, over our guilt before the merciful God (for example, the tears of the Apostle Peter after his renunciation).

For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death, said the Apostle Paul (II Cor. 7:10).

Tribulation and tears coming from misfortunes which befall us can be spiritually beneficial. For example, the death of one of our close ones can result in beneficial tears, if the sorrow is permeated by faith and hope, patience and devotion to the will of God. Jesus Christ Himself wept over the death of Lazarus.

Even more so can tears and tribulation lead to blessedness when they are shed over the suffering of our unfortunate neighbor, if these sincere tears are accompanied by Christian deeds of love and mercy.

Worldly grief is grief without hope in God. It proceeds not from acknowledgment of one’s sins before God, but rather from disappointment in ambition, aspiration to power, desire for gain. Such sadness, characterized by despondency and despair, leads to spiritual death, which can also result in physical death, by suicide or simply weakness due to lack of will to live. An example of such grief is that of Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Christ the Saviour. As a reward for mourning the Lord promises that they that mourn will be comforted. They will receive forgiveness of sins, and through this, internal peace. The mourners will receive eternal joy, eternal blessedness.

The First Beatitude ( Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven)

Blessed — joyful in the highest degree and pleasing to God; poor in spirit — humble, those who are conscious of their imperfections and unworthiness before God, and never think that they are better or more holy than others.

Spiritual lowliness is the conviction that our entire life and all our spiritual and physical blessings, such as life, health, strength, spiritual capability, knowledge, riches, and every good thing of life, all this is the gift of our Creator God. Without help from Heaven, it is impossible to acquire either material well-being or spiritual riches. All this is the gift of God.

Spiritual lowliness is called humility. Humility is the foundation of all Christian virtue, because it is the opposite of pride, and pride introduced all evil into the world. Due to pride the first among the angles became the Devil; the first people sinned, their descendants quarrelled and went to war among themselves from pride. The first sin was pride (Ecclus. 10:15).

Without humility it is impossible to return to God. Nor are any of the other Christian virtues possible. Humility permits us to know ourselves, to correctly assess our worth and deficiencies. It acts beneficially in the fulfillment of our obligations to our neighbor, arouses arid strengthens in us faith in God, hope and love for Him. It attracts the mercy of God to us and also disposes people to us.

The Word of God says, A sacrifice unto God is a broken spirit; a heart that is broken and humbled God will not despise (Ps. 50:17). Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly (Prov. 3:34). Learn of me, instructs the Saviour, for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls (Matt. 11:29).

Physical misery or privation can result in the acquisition of much spiritual humility if this privation or need is accepted with good will, without a murmur. But physical privation does not always result in spiritual humility, it can lead to bitterness.

Even the wealthy can be spiritually humble if they understand that visible, material wealth is decadent and transitory, fleeting, and that it is no substitute for spiritual riches. They must understand the word of the Lord, For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? (Matt. 16:26).

But Christian humility must be strictly distinguished from self-seeking self-abasement, such as fawning and flattery, which discredit human dignity.

It is necessary to strictly reject so-called "noble self-love" or "defense against affronts to one’s honor," which reflect prejudices, pernicious superstitions which were inherited from Roman paganism hostile to Christianity. The true Christian must decisively renounce these superstitions which resulted in the anti-Christian and shameful custom of the duel and revenge.

In reward for meekness of spirit, humility, the Lord Jesus Christ promises the Kingdom of Heaven, a life of eternal blessedness. Participation in the Kingdom of God for the humble begins here and now — by means of faith and hope in God; but the ultimate reward in all of its fullness will be seen in the future life.

Law of God