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In Matthew, Christ taught eight Beatitudes; but, in Luke, He explained only four Beatitudes...though He added four woes. These were two different occasions and apparently two different audiences. 

The Beatitudes are so overlapping that all are contained in each other. And, as long as it is explained well, it would not matter if there were three or nine Beatitudes. 

Who are the "poor"? Those whose desire for the things of the world is zero. These people have voluntarily made themselves "poor"...i.e. without any desire for the things of the world so that they may increase their desire for the things of heaven. Desire for the things of the world cannot co-exist with the desire for the things of heaven. "Friendship with the world is enmity with God." There is no merit in being involuntarily poor. 

The "poor" here described, in fact, develop a hatred for the things of the world because it prevents them from desiring the things of heaven. Those who love the world usually love to spend their eternity here in the world. 

The "poor" are those who practice voluntary poverty...which all must observe who would want to progress in the spiritual life. Poverty is not only avoiding desiring the things of the world but also must reach the point of despising the things of the world. It is sometimes referred to as detachment. It is like saying, if it comes fine, if it does not come, it's fine just the same. Their affection is only for the things of heaven; they have no affection for the things of the world. 

The whole spiritual life is built on poverty. Externally, they seem to live poorly precisely because they only use the things of the world that are needed for their quest for holiness; everything else is laid aside. Making provisions for food, shelter, and clothing, they seek nothing else. So they look poor. But they have much and have merely voluntarily chosen to live this way. This is voluntary poverty. 

Poverty is having the basic necessities and giving up those things in the world that simply give delight.

And, again, the reason they have voluntarily chosen to live this way is that they may be worthy of the righteousness of God. Nothing in this life can satisfy man' s longing, except virtue. And the reward of the poor? Theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

This is the first test from God: if you will continue to seek Him in an atmosphere of poverty. 


* * *



The "hungry" are those who yearn for God's righteousness, i.e., what is right in the eyes of God and not so much in the eyes of men.

Nothing in the world worries them; neither what they shall eat nor drink. They are satisfied with whatever they have. For God's righteousness is more important than food and drink.

Such Christian souls never consider themselves righteous but constantly aim at growing in righteousness. 

For those who desire righteousness, an abundance of grace is promised. 

The reason we live in poverty, despising the things of the world, is to desire in a greater degree the righteousness of God. For, being "hungry", we shall certainly be satisfied; not only with spiritual food but also with physical food. To be poor for any other reason than this is an act of futility. 

This is your second test: for you to find out if you will continue to seek God alone without indulging in the things of the world. 


* * *



The poor hunger for God's righteousness. But because they experience the great struggle between the pull towards God on one hand, and the pull towards the world on the other hand, they weep (or mourn), as a child who desires a toy that he cannot possess would weep out of desperation.

The Christian "poor", because of his "hunger" for God, mourns because he finds himself chained by time, by his flesh and the world. These prevent him from attaining his longing for heaven...thus, he mourns. 

He "mourns" because of the great effort needed to hate the things of the world. But this godly "mourning" worketh unto repentance and salvation. By this sorrow, the soul discovers his defects. And, like St. Paul, he eventually "mourns" for the sins of others. 

Such grief is the source of gladness; "you shall laugh," not with the lips but with a heart full of gladness unmixed with sorrow. 

This is your third test: for you to find out if you will continue to seek God amidst great difficulties. 


* * *


THE FOUR BEATITUDES - "Those Persecuted"

If someone is persecuted and hated because he has committed a crime, then he deserves it. 

Those who are blessed are those persecuted and hated because they are obeying the commandments of Christ. 

Christians who are "poor" because they "hunger" for God's righteousness and, finding it difficult to attain it, "mourn," begin to behave differently from the people of the world. Such Christians loathe the things that worldly people love and thus are disliked and hated by the lovers of the world. 

The world  will hate you because you hate the things they love and avoid doing the things they do.  You detest the things they look up to and run away from the things they run to. 

In their hatred, the world will call you evil while they wallow in the mud of their self-righteousness. Such people can hate you but they cannot harm you.

This is your fourth test: for you to find out if you will continue to seek God even if the world tries to stop you. 

Blessed Theopylact






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