September 1, 2013

Scripture and Commentary, Monday after the Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity


Morning – Psalm39, 2 Sam. 16:23-17:14, 2 Cor. 6:1-10
Evening – Psalm 33, Matthew 5:1-16

Commentary, Matthew 5:1-16

Matthew 5 begins the beloved passage known as the Sermon on the Mount.  Verses 3-12 are known as the Beatitudes, from a Latin word meaning “happy.”  It is difficult for some to understand how a person should consider himself happy while enduring the conditions named in these verses.  How can one be happy and mourn?  How can one be happy when persecuted and reviled?  At first it seems impossible.  But if we notice that the conditions expressed in the Beatitudes are conditions endured for the sake of Christ and His Kingdom.  Then we begin to understand why enduring such them are in fact, great blessings.
To become poor in spirit is to give up all pretences of self-sufficiency before God.  It is to recognize personal sin and the need of grace in all areas of life.  It is to become contrite and humble before God, trusting His grace to restore us to a right relationship with Him.  Such people are considered by the world to be weak and sad, yet Christ says, “theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

It is the same with every affliction named in these verses.  Those who mourn, whether over the loss of things sacrificed in the service of Christ, the normal sorrows of life, the wickedness of the world and the sorrows reaped by that wickedness, or the weakness and sin in their own lives, are the ones who shall be comforted.  Those who revel in ungodliness, who gladly embrace spiritual darkness, and rejoice in sin; those who are happy in the current condition of the world, will mourn with a perpetual sorrow.

The meek are those who humbly give preference to others rather than pushing and fighting for their own status and rights.  These are the people who do their own work well rather than climbing the corporate ladder on the backs and labours of others.  The world says such people will never get ahead, but Christ says they shall inherit the earth.

Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness shall be filled.  Those who hunger for wealth and fame are never satisfied.  The trinkets they value today loose their luster tomorrow.  What seems incredible wealth today seems inadequate poverty tomorrow.

The merciful shall receive mercy.  The world considers mercy weakness.  The strong show no mercy, thus, they teach people not to cross them.  But the merciful forgive their trespassers as God has forgiven them.  They are the one who receive mercy from God.

The pure in heart are those who first bear no malice.  Their hearts are free of evil desires, greed, pride, and aggression.  Furthermore, their hearts are pure because God has forgiven their sins and counted them just and pure in His sight, through faith in Christ.  These are the ones who shall :see God.”

Peacemakers shall be called the children of God.  There is only one real way to make peace; that is by making peace with God through the atoning sacrifice of Christ.  Real peacemakers, then, are those who help others find this peace with God.  They may also help people live in peace with one another, but even that peace is built upon peace with God through Christ.  The reconciliation purchased by Christ reconciles us to God and one another.

Finally, “Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you… for my sake.”  How can this be happiness?  First, you are sharing the fate of faithful people from the earliest times.  Prophets were killed and rejected by their own people.  Even Christ was killed.  It is enough for the servant to be like his Master.  More importantly, the persecuted share the reward of others who were persecuted.  “Great is your reward.  In Revelation 6:7 the martyrs of the persecution of the early Church are given white robes and rest.  Their trials are over.  To share their trials is to share their reward, and such is happiness indeed.