Tonight we are gathering to study the second beatitude “Blessed are those that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” We will be going through those questions set forth in John Stott’s workbook, The Beatitudes: Developing Spiritual Character.
I have attached a sermon by St. Gregory of Nyssa (334-394) on this Beatitude. (Sermon 3, pp. 106-16) If you have the time today, please read through the attached. (The reading is not required.) Gregory begins his sermon with a recognition of the traditional interpretation of this teaching that we mourn over our own transgressions as set forth by Paul in 2 Corinthians 7:10. But Gregory goes one step further and says we also mourn over our very human nature. “For if a man has been able to perceive the true good, and then realizes the poverty of human nature, he will certainly think the soul in distress. For he will consider that the present life is spent in sorrow because it is removed from the true good.” (p.111). He gives the example of two men living in a cave. The first man, having been born in the cave, knows nothing of the true world. The second man, having lived outside of the cave, knows of light and life, and thereby mourns its absence. So also with us who have glimpses of an unfallen world where true light and life reign. Gregory concludes his sermon with the nature of our comfort which comes into the world without end. “Now the comfort comes through participating in the Comforter. For the gift of comforting is the special operation of the Spirit, of which may we made worthy, through Jesus Christ.” (p.116).
The lectionary readings this past Sunday also show us why we should mourn over the state of the world and our souls within it. From the teaching of the Preacher in Ecclesiastes that all the things of this world are emptiness, to Paul’s warning in Colossians 3 to rid ourselves of the pollution of this world, to the story of the rich fool in Luke 12 who stores up treasures in this world, we see the ultimate failure of striving after what the world calls good rather than striving after the Good itself, and therefore we mourn. If you have the opportunity, re-read these passages from Sunday and see how they apply to our current economic and political life, and mourn.
Dinner is at 6. The menu is ham and scalloped potatoes. Discussion about 6:45. Hope to see you here and please bring a friend.
For we see that the wise die also;Psalm 49:9-12
like the dull and stupid they perish *
and leave their wealth to those who come after them.
Their graves shall be their homes for ever,
their dwelling places from generation to generation, *
though they call the lands after their own names.
Even though honored, they cannot live for ever; *
they are like the beasts that perish.
Such is the way of those who foolishly trust in themselves, *
and the end of those who delight in their own words.