Exodus, Chapter 9, Verse 20
Those of Pharaoh’s servants who feared the word of the LORD hurried their servants and their livestock off to shelter.
Even Pharaohs servants when they heard the word of God took action. Blessed are we that hear the word of the Lord!
Today we are a community living in the fulfillment of faith in Christ and He asks us to do something unthinkable, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”(John 6:53-58)
Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. (Mt. 4:19)
This gospel is read to-day because it is by practicing what it contains that the saints have gained the eternal kingdom.
Explanation of the Eight Beatitudes
I. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” “The poor in spirit are: 1. Those who, like the apostles, readily forsake all earthly things, and for Christ s sake become poor. 2. Those who, happening to lose their property by misfortune or injustice, suffer the loss patiently, in resignation to the will of God. 3. Those who, like Jesus (Matt. viii. 20), are content with their poor and humble position, seek no higher or happier one, and would rather suffer want than enrich themselves by unlawful acts, by fraud or theft. 4. The rich and noble who set not their hearts upon the riches and greatness of the world (Ps. Ixi. 11 ; i. Cor. vii. 30), but who use their riches and influence to relieve the misery of the needy and oppressed. 5. Finally, the truly humble, who, convinced of their weakness, their helplessness and misery, think lowly of themselves, and regard themselves but as beggars, who are always in need of the grace of God. To all these, therefore, in whose hearts the world has no place, there is assured, as their inheritance, the kingdom of heaven ; here the kingdom of grace there the kingdom of glory.
II. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the land.” That man is rneek who does not murmur against God for sending afflictions upon him, who is not angry at men who do him injury, but who rather suppresses impatience, anger, envy, and revenge, nay, who seeks to recompense the evil done him by his neighbor with good. Such a one is greater than he who takes by storm fortified cities (Prov. xvi. 32) ; he possesses an unfailing fountain of peace, quiet, and cheerfulness ; by his meekness prevails over the most hostile minds, is by such means truly a ruler upon earth, and will one day, for his portion, obtain heaven, the land of the living, there to enjoy eternal peace.
III. “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” By them that mourn we are not to understand such as grieve and lament over a death, a misfortune, a loss of worldly goods, or the like; but those who are grieved that God should be in so many ways offended by themselves and by others that His Church should be so heavily oppressed, and thereby so many souls lost that have been redeemed with the precious blood of Christ. The only evil really to be grieved for is sin, and the tears shed on account of sin are the only tears that are profitable, for they shall be recompensed with everlasting joy.
IV. “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice, for they shall have their fill.” Hunger and thirst denote the most ardent longing after those virtues which constitute Christian perfection; such as humility, meekness, the love of God and of our neighbor, penance. Whoever longs for these virtues as the hungry man does for food and drink, and prays to God for them with perseverance and earnestness, shall have his fill that is, he shall be enriched with them, and one day shall be satisfied with eternal happiness.
V. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” The merciful here spoken of are: 1. Those who willingly forgive the injuries done to them. 2. Those who have compassion on their poor neighbors, and, according to their ability, sustain them by alms. These shall obtain mercy that is; God will forgive them their sins and endow them abundantly with the goods of this world and of the world to come. Thus God deals with us as we deal with others (Matt. vii. 2).
VI. “Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God. The clean of heart are those who preserve with care the innocence with which they are invested at holy Baptism, or seek to regain it, when lost, by penance; those who keep their hearts and consciences unspotted from all sinful thoughts, particularly from all unchaste thoughts, desires, words, and acts, and who endeavor in all things to have a pure intention directed to God alone. They shall see God, that is, they shall know Him even here upon earth, for as the eye that is to see must be clean, so only souls that are pure and unstained can behold God. But further, our knowledge is like our hearts; the purer the heart the clearer and greater is the knowledge of God. But in the world above they shall see, know, and possess Him as He is. “What blessedness! Strive, therefore, to keep your heart clean.”
VII. “Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called the children of God.” By peace-makers we are to understand those who have peace with themselves, that is, a quiet conscience, and who endeavor to maintain peace among others, or to restore it when broken. Such are called the children of God, because they follow God, Who is a God of peace (Eoin. xv. 33), and Who even gave His only Son to reconcile the world with Him (Korn. v. 10), and to bring down upon earth that peace which the world itself could not give (Luke ii. 14; John xiv. 27).
VIII. “Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Hereby all those are declared blessed who, on account of the true faith, of virtue, of the fear of God, of purity, are persecuted, calumniated, and even put to death, and who bear all this with Christian patience and constancy, nay, with joy. Thus have the saints done, and thereby they have gained the heavenly crown. Do we desire to be crowned with them; we must also suffer with them. And in truth, if we would apply ourselves zealously to virtue, occasions will not be wanting to us, for c all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (n, Tim. iii. 12).