Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Beatitudes, Part Three

The Beatitudes are among the most lofty—and often perplexing—teachings given to us by Christ, and one book I’ve been reading is an excellent study from a social perspective; The Divine Pity: A Study in the Social Implications of the Beatitudes, by Rev. Gerald Vann, O.P., and I’m posting some quotes from it as well as commentary from the Douay Rheims with the Haydock Commentary and The Navarre Bible, Matthew.

This is the third beatitude in the RSV translation, but second in the Douay Rheims.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the land.” (Matthew 5:4)

Rev. Haydock says of this verse:

"Ver. 4. The land of the living, or the kingdom of heaven. The evangelist prefers calling it the land of the living in this place, to shew that the meek, the humble, and the oppressed, who are spoiled of the possession of this earth by the powerful and the proud, shall obtain the inheritance of a better land. (Menochius) "They shall possess the land," is the reward annexed by our Saviour to meekness, that he might not differ in any point from the old law, so well known to the persons he was addressing. David, in psalm xxxvi, had made the same promise to the meek. If temporal blessings are promised to some of the virtues in the beatitudes, it is that temporal blessings might always accompany the more solid rewards of grace. But spiritual rewards are always the principal, always ranked in the first place, all who practice these virtues are pronounced blessed. (Hom. xv.)"

The Navarre says of this verse:

“5. The meek; those who patiently suffer unjust persecution; those who remain serene, humble and steadfast in adversity, and do not give way to resentment or discouragement. The virtue of meekness is very necessary in the Christian life. Usually irritableness, which is very common, stems from a lack of humility and interior peace.”

Rev. Vann says:

“We find God through making for ourselves the long sea-journey—in the company and in the power of Him who made it for us first; we find God through overcoming, again in His power, the dark evil within us; we find God by realizing in the first place our need of God as a child realizes its need of a father; we find Him by learning to see the reality of sin and therefore to repent and be meek and humble of heart.

“He descended into hell. That, too, we have to do in company with Him. We are all together God’s family; and we have to go down into the depths and understand the reality of the evil of the world if we are to help to heal the world. You cannot heal unless you love; but you cannot love unless you see. That is why the first prayer of the humble man is the prayer of the blind man in the Gospel: “Lord, that I may see.” Lord, that I may see the reality of sin and my share in it, and so turn again to You, and so see Your mercy and the meaning of the Love that rules the sun and the other stars; for then the Word will be made flesh in me and I shall be reborn, and in the power of the new life I shall share in the work of Him who makes all things new.

“You cannot help the world in its sin and its suffering unless you sense your share in the sin and have your share in the suffering. And how can you do this, not only for a few who are dear to you and for whom you are responsible, but for the whole world? You can do it only by putting on Christ, by being able to say “I live now not I, but Christ liveth in me.” And who can begin to say this but the meek and the humble of heart.” (pp. 62-63)