from: Volume 10 Issue 4 Date 1st June 2007
It has often been said that although the
Ten Commandments of the Old Testament will always stand as signposts to
a Christian way of life, they receive their fulfilment only in the ‘Ten
Commandments of the New Testament’. These are the Beatitudes, as
given in Matthew 5, 3–12, and sung at every divine liturgy. However,
we can go a stage further and say that the Beatitudes are in a fact a
prophecy of the history of the Church. Let us see how this could be true.
1. Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
The first apostolic Orthodox were humble, ‘sharing everything in
common’, as can be seen in the description of their way of life
in the Book of Acts. Because they were humble, ‘poor in spirit’,
they lived a heavenly way of life.
2. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Persecution was not long in coming. The world ‘that lies in sin’,
could not tolerate virtue. Jews and Romans alike fell on them. They mourned
– but they were also comforted by the grace of God.
3. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Thanks to the meekness of the Orthodox of the first three centuries, they
were rewarded by seeing the whole of the Roman Empire fall to their faith
and their missions go far beyond – into Africa, India, even to the
isles at the end of the world – Britain and across the seas. Meekness
inherited the earth.
4. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness:
for they shall be filled.
There were those who wanted more than just a Christian Empire with Christian
institutions, they wanted holiness, even if martyrdom was not available.
These were those who went into the deserts, filling them, making them
a city. They founded monasticism and became great.
5. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
In overcoming the cruelty of the pagan world, it was necessary to teach
it mercy. This was done by those, bishops and laypeople alike, who through
their example of showing mercy to others, received God’s mercy and
are called holy.
6. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
At the beginning of the second millennium, there were those who fell away
from the Church in their errors regarding the Holy Spirit. Others were
raised up and, seeking God, they showed how they were able to see Him
in His energies. Their vision was obtainable only by purity of heart.
This visions was written down theologically, in words that men could understand.
7. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children
There came a time when men began to fall away from the Church and attack
those faithful to it, deludedly thinking that they were doing God’s
will. Orthodox did not attack them in return, but simply defended God’s
Truth, calling for peace.
8. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’
sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Then came the times of great persecutions which the faithful endured,
with the promise of the kingdom.
9. Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and
shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Now comes the time of hatred, when the faithful are reviled and slandered,
even by those who appear to be of their own. But those who undergo this
for the sake of Christ are promised blessedness.
10. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven.
At the very end of time, whenever that is, those who have remained faithful
will find great reward in heaven.