August 18, 2015

An Interpretation of the Beatitudes of Christ (5 of 9)

...continued from part four.

By His Eminence Metropolitan Hierotheos
of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

"Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy" (Matt. 5:7).

As we have repeatedly said in our analysis of the Beatitudes, there is a sequence and succession between them. Therefore, whoever is humble, has repented and is meek, and whoever hungers and thirsts for righteousness, will also be merciful. This is an ongoing evolution towards virtue, a constant journey to a life in God, a continuous ascent up Mount Sinai and Mount Tabor.

Thus, mercy is closely related with righteousness, as well as righteousness with mercy. One may have great zeal for the prevalence of justice between people, but this can be done without mercy, without love and without philanthropy. According to the Fathers of the Church righteousness is closely associated with love and sometimes they are identified with each other. The incarnation of Christ took place to restore the injustices of fallen humanity, and this restoration was done with the love and philanthropy of God.

If you read carefully the events that led to the fall of the First-formed, then you will find that the devil used God's commandment to not eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and he misrepresented it to portray God as unjust. Thus, the devil committed the great injustice to capture man who belonged to God, since he was created by God, and thus he acquired something that he did not create nor belonged to him. This was an injustice. Christ by His incarnation restored this injustice with love, philanthropy as well as righteousness. He received voluntarily a mortal and suffering body, in which the hook of divinity was placed, and in this way He mislead the devil, restoring the injustice, and thus liberating humanity from the dominion of the devil, death and sin. This was done with love and righteousness.

Therefore, it is not enough to only be just, but we must be merciful, to have love for others. Nor is it enough to have love and philanthropy, if we are not just. This means that righteousness is closely associated with mercy, with philanthropy.

However, the mercy which is praised and blessed by Christ is diverse, and not only the offering of some material goods and food. There are mainly three ways in which mercy is expressed.

The first way mercy is expressed is with money and material things in general. There are people who lack many material things, and even necessary things, in a time when they may be unemployed and lack income. In such situations we must locate their needs and help to the degree we can.

The second way mercy is produced is by offering to people good words. Many people are not deprived of material goods, but they lack love and lack a good word. Today wickedness among people is widespread, and they hear harsh words, thus their souls are deeply wounded and they need a word to heal. Many of us are ready to give material things to others, but we are completely unable to offer them a word of consolation, hope and life.

Above all, people today need a theological word, which moves beyond the social, psychological and humanist word. Many miracles take place today with the theological word. There are saints who do not work miracles, that is, they do not heal the physical illnesses of humanity, but they theologize, and they offer Orthodox theology, and this theological word heals the traumas of the souls of people. Modern man has greater need of this.

Whoever is merciful will accept the love of others, because the spiritual law is enforced, by which there is returned to a person what they do for others, and at the same time they will receive mercy from God after their repose and at the Second Coming of Christ. Whoever offers mercy and love to others, will richly receive mercy and love from God. God is not unjust and operates more with those who love, forgive and bring benefit.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.