The Beatitudes – Rejoicing Through Persecution, pt.2

Tonight we are gathering to discuss the eighth and final Beatitude: Blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice’s sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.  Please review the study questions posed by John Stott in The Beatitudes – Developing Spiritual Character. These questions will guide our discussions this week.

I have attached Gregory of Nyssa’s Sermon on this final beatitude.  Gregory raises the issue that Jesus promises three groups of people the kingdom of heaven: the poor in spirit, those persecuted for righteousness, and those that show compassion, mutual assistance, and love in the parable of the sheep and the goats. Matt 25:31-46.  With Gregory, think through the relationship between these three passages.  How are these three groups – the spiritually poor, the persecuted righteous, and the compassionate – related to one another or merely different descriptions of the same people? Gregory also raises the issue that the pursuit of pleasure is the means by which sin, corruption, and darkness enter our lives through avarice, lust, etc. Persecution, by bringing about suffering, purifies us of these desires and therefore should be welcomed.  Is persecution, therefore, something that should be hoped for?  If you have time today, please read through Gregory’s sermon.

SCHEDULING:  We will begin a journey through Hebrews beginning next Tuesday.  Fr. Gabriel Bullock of St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church will be leading us. The great theme of Hebrews is showing that as God once spoke through Moses and the prophets, he now speaks to us through Jesus Christ – with the latter displacing the former. Please take time this week to read through the entirety of Hebrews. The book forms the longest sustained argument in the New Testament, and the fullness of its purpose can best be seen by looking at the argument as a whole.  I have also attached Luke Timothy Johnson’s brief discussion of Hebrew from The Writings of the New Testament as a good overview of the book itself. 

Dinner is at 6. The menu is Italian meatballs.  Discussion about 6:45. Hope to see you here, and please bring a friend.

Surely, for your sake have I suffered reproach, *
     and shame has covered my face.
I have become a stranger to my own kindred, *
     an alien to my mother’s children.
Zeal for your house has eaten me up; *
     the scorn of those who scorn you has fallen upon me. 

The afflicted shall see and be glad; *
     you who seek God, your heart shall live.
For the Lord listens to the needy, *
     and his prisoners he does not despise.
Let the heavens and the earth praise him, *
     the seas and all that moves in them;
For God will save Zion and rebuild the cities of Judah; *
     they shall live there and have it in possession.
The children of his servants will inherit it, *
     and those who love his Name will dwell therein.

Psalm 69:8-10, 34-38

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