When repaid with ingratitude and even “persecution” (verse 10) it will be but a new blessing, “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

The solemn blessings (beatitudines, benedictiones) which mark the opening of the Sermon on the Mount, the very first of Our Lord’s sermons in the Gospel of St. Matthew (5:3-10).

Four of them occur again in a slightly different form in the Gospel of St. Luke (6:22), likewise at the beginning of a sermon, and running parallel to Matthew 5-7, if not another version of the same. And here they are illustrated by the opposition of the four curses (24-26).

The fuller account and the more prominent place given the Beatitudes in St. Matthew are quite in accordance with the scope and the tendency of the First Gospel, in which the spiritual character of the Messianic kingdom — the paramount idea of the Beatitudes — is consistently put forward, in sharp contrast with Jewish prejudices. The very peculiar form in which Our Lord proposed His blessings make them, perhaps, the only example of His sayings that may be styled poetical — the parallelism of thought and expression, which is the most striking feature of Biblical poetry, being unmistakably clear.

The text of St. Matthew runs as follows:

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Verse 3)
Blessed are the meek: for they shall possess the land. (Verse 4)
Blessed are they who mourn: for they shall be comforted. (Verse 5)
Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill. (Verse 6)
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. (Verse 7)
Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God. (Verse 8)
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. (Verse 9)
Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Verse 10)


The Meaning. In this fallen world when people try to promote peace, or champion righteousness, or live a life of gentleness and meekness, they find opposition. One would think that such a life would attract people to the kingdom of God. But the fact that it does not naturally do that tells us clearly that the race is not only alienated from God, but in rebellion to God. They might want a form of justice, but in their own terms. They much prefer power, and privilege, and possessions. And so John the Baptist called for righteousness and went to an early death. And Jesus proclaimed all the right virtues but found opposition to his message because it called for them to enter his kingdom. And if they persecuted these, will they not also oppose the disciples?

The beatitude is not simply for all who have suffered persecution. God, as the righteous judge of the earth, will deal with that as well. But this beatitude is for followers of Christ, those who suffer persecution for the sake of righteousness. And as the next verse clarifies to the disciples, that means suffering for Christ’s sake. They have been identified by faith with the King, they carry his name, and they proclaim the good news that there is a kingdom of love and peace that is spiritual and eternal. But they will find opposition. Nevertheless, they should rejoice, for their reward in heaven will be great. God will make it up to them, and more.

But the blessing stated here for those who suffer such persecution in this world is that their destiny will be a complete contrast to their present humiliation–theirs is the kingdom of heaven. And that, the disciples know, is something worth dying for. But it is not a future reality only–they have it now (and so this blessing parallels the first).

The Application. The lesson would simply be that people should be living for Christ in this world, living the way members of the kingdom should live, championing holiness and justice, showing mercy, remaining meek and poor in spirit–all the things that the beatitudes praise. But they should know that genuine kindness is offensive to many, and so they will be prepared for opposition.

The last couple of verses have an implicit claim to deity by Jesus. In the Old Testament the prophets were persecuted because of their faithfulness to God. Now Jesus says that His disciples will be persecuted because of their faithfulness to Him. He is God.

O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, Did instruct the hearts of the faithful, Grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy his consolations. Through Christ Our Lord.

The meaning of compassion is to recognize the suffering of others and then take action to help. Compassion embodies a tangible expression of love for those who are suffering.

WE&P by: EZorrillaMc.