Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Beatitudes, Part Seven

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 seventh and final beatitude discussed by Reverend Vann..

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)

Rev. Haydock Says:

“Ver. 9. To be peaceful ourselves and with others, and to bring such as are at variance together, will entitle us to be children of God. Thus we shall be raised to a participation in the honour of the only begotten Son of God, who descended from heaven to bring peace to man, and to reconcile him with his offended Creator. (St. Chrysostom, hom. xv.)”

The Navarre Bible says:

“9. The translation “peacemakers” well conveys the active meaning of the original text—those who foster peace, in themselves and in others and, as a basis for that, try to be reconciled and to reconcile others with God. Being at peace with God is the cause and the effect of every kind of peace. Any peace on earth not based on this divine peace would be vain and misleading.

“They shall be called sons of God”: this is a Hebraicism often found in Sacred Scripture; it is the same as saying “they will be sons of God”. St John’s first letter (3:1) provides a correct exegesis of this Beatitude: “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.”

Rev. Vann says:

“The quality in our relations with our fellow men which, says St. Thomas, immediately disposes us to the life of vision is the love of peace. And why? Because the life of vision—the life of the quiet prayer of wonder and the greater prayer of union—is incompatible with agitation. You cannot adore the Other in self-oblivion, you cannot “cast all your cares away,” if you are tossed about on a sea of worries and solicitudes about external things; nor can you if you are not yet at peace within the mind itself because of a lack of complete identity of will with the infinite Will. “Wisdom,” says St. Augustine, “is to the peace-lovers, in whom there is no movement of rebellion, but obedience to Reason.” But wisdom is the end.

“It is useful for man to have much information about matters of fact; but that is not wisdom. It is useful to have scientific knowledge, to know the immediate what and why of things; but that is not wisdom either. It is better to have philosophy, which is the knowledge of things, not in their immediate but in their ultimate, causes; that is wisdom, though it is not the highest form of wisdom. It is wisdom because it does reduce the manifold of life to the one, and therefore makes things intelligible as a unity; but you need to make the dry bones live, the vision, the intuition or awareness, of things in all their concreteness, their goodness and beauty as well as their truth; above all, you need some degree, at least, of direct knowledge of the nature of the one; and when you have that vision in its plentitude—the plentitude which, knowing something of God in Himself, sees all things in Him and Him in all things—and at the same time the wisdom which judges all things in the light of the highest of all causes, the fullest and deepest sense; and seeing things as it were with the eyes of God, you share something of the peace of God.” (pp. 205-206)