The First Beatitude

Sermon on the Mount by Макаров

Here and in the next several posts, we shall hear various saints and sages comment on the Beatitudes, which Jesus Christ revealed in His Sermon on the Mount. St. Matthew recounts that memorable event: “And seeing the multitudes, He went up into a mountain: and when He was set, His disciples came unto Him. And He opened His mouth, and taught them, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 5:1-3)

“By not choosing His seat in the city, and the market place, but on a mountain in a desert, He has taught us to do nothing with ostentation.” -St. John Chrysostom

“‘His disciples came to him,’ that they who in spirit approached more nearly to keeping His commandments, should also approach Him nearest with their bodily presence.” -St. Augustine

“Mystically, this sitting down of Christ is His incarnation; had He not taken flesh on Him, mankind could not have come unto Him.” -Rabanus Maurus

“When the Lord on the mountain is about to utter His sublime precepts, it is said, ‘Opening his mouth he taught them,’ He who had before opened the mouth of the Prophets.” -St. Gregory the Great

“He sometimes teaches by opening His mouth in speech, sometimes by that voice which resounds from His works.” -St. John Chrysostom

“Augmentation of spirit generally implies insolence and pride. For in common speech the proud are said to have a great spirit, . . . they are swollen, puffed up. Here therefore by ‘poor in spirit’ are rightly understood lowly, fearing God, not having a puffed up spirit.” – St. Augustine

“The blessing is on those who humble themselves by their own choice. Thus He begins at once at the root, pulling up pride which is the root and source of all evil, setting up as its opposite humility as a firm foundation. If this be well laid, other virtues may be firmly built thereon; if that be sapped, whatever good you gather upon it perishes.” – St. John Chrysostom

Quotations from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels Collected Out of the Works of the Fathers, Vol. I, Part I (Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1841).

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