Communion of All Saints

Matthew 5:8-10

Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God: blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God: blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’s sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Haydock

Verse 8. The clean of heart are either those who give themselves to the practice of every virtue, and are conscious to themselves of no evil, or those who are adorned with the virtue of chastity. For nothing is so necessary as this purity in such as desire to see God. Keep peace with all and chastity, says S. Paul, for without this none can see God. Many are merciful to the poor and just in their dealings, but abstain not from luxury and lust. Therefore our Saviour, wishing to shew that mercy was not sufficient, adds, that if we would see God, we must also be possessed of the virtue of purity. S. Chry. hom. xv. By this, we shall have our heart exempt from all disordinate love of creatures, and shall be exclusively attached to God. A. — The clean of heart, i.e. they who are clean from sin: who are pure in body and mind, says S. Chrysostom. It seems to be a particular admonition to the Jews, who were mostly solicitous about an outward and legal cleanness. Wi.

Verse 9. To be peaceful ourselves and with others, and to bring such as are at variance together, will entitle us to be children of God. Thus we shall be raised to a participation in the honour of the only begotten Son of God, who descended from heaven to bring peace to man, and to reconcile him with his offended Creator. Chry. hom. xv.

Verse 10. Heretics and malefactors suffer occasionally, but they are not on this account blessed, because they suffer not for justice. For, says S. Aug. they cannot suffer for justice, who have divided the Church; and where sound faith or charity is wanting, there cannot be justice. Cont. epis. Parm. l. i. c. 9. ep. 50. ps. 4. conc. 2. B. — By justice here we understand virtue, piety, and the defence of our neighbour. To all who suffer on this account, he promises a seat in his heavenly kingdom. We must not think that suffering persecution only, will suffice to entitle us to the greatest promises. The persecutions we suffer must be inflicted on us on his account, and the evils spoken of us must be false and contradicted by our lives. If these are not the causes of our sufferings, so far from being happy, we shall be truly miserable, because then our irregular lives would be the occasion of the persecutions we suffer. Chry. hom. xv.

Catena Aurea

8. "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God."

Ambrose, in Luc., vi, 22: The merciful loses the benefit of his mercy, unless he shews it from a pure heart; for if he seeks to have whereof to boast, he loses the fruit of his deeds; the next that follows therefore is, “Blessed are the pure of heart.”

Gloss. ap. Anselm: Purity of heart comes properly in the sixth place, because on the sixth day man was created in the image of God, which image was shrouded by sin, but is formed anew in pure hearts by grace. It follows rightly the beforementioned graces, because if they be not there, a clean heart is not created in a man.

Jerome: The pure is known by purity of heart, for the temple of God cannot be impure.

Pseudo-Chrys.: He who in thought and deed fulfils all righteousness, “sees God” in his heart, for righteousness is an image of God, for God is righteousness. So far as any one has rescued himself from evil, and works things that are good, so far does he “see God,” either hardly, or fully, or sometimes, or always, according to the capabilities of human nature. But in that world to come the pure in heart shall see God face to face, not in a glass, and in enigma as here.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., i, 2: They are foolish who seek to see God with the bodily eye, seeing He is seen only by the heart, as it is elsewhere written, “In singleness of heart seek ye Him;” the single heart is the same as is here called the pure heart.

Aug., City of God, book 22, ch. 29: But if spiritual eyes in the spiritual body shall be able only to see so much as they we now have can see, undoubtedly God will not be able to be seen of them.

“cleansing their hearts by faith;” [Acts 15:9] but the present verse Aug., de Trin., i, 8: This seeing God is the reward of faith; to which end our [p. 154] hearts are made pure by faith, as it is written, proves this still more strongly.

Aug., de Genesi ad Literam. xii. 26: No one seeing God can be alive with the life men have on earth, or with these our bodily senses. Unless one die altogether out of this life, either by totally departing from the body, or so alienated from carnal lusts that he may truly say with the Apostle, “whether in the body or out of the body, I cannot tell,” he is not translated that he should see this vision.

Gloss. non occ.: The reward of these is greater than the reward of the first; being not merely to dine in the King’s court, but further to see His face.

9. "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God."

Ambrose: When you have made your inward parts clean from every spot of sin, that dissentions and contentions may not proceed from your temper, begin peace within yourself, that so you may extend it to others.

Aug., City of God, book 19, ch. 13: Peace is the fixedness of order; by order, I mean an arrangement of things like and unlike giving to each its own place. And as there is no man who would not willingly have joy, so is there no man who would not have peace; since even those who go to war desire nothing more than by war to come to a glorious peace.

Jerome: The peacemakers [margin note: pacifici] are pronounced blessed, they namely who make peace first within their own hearts, then between brethren at variance. For what avails it to make peace between others, while in your own heart are wars of rebellious vices.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., i, 2: The peacemakers within themselves are they who having stilled all disturbances of their spirits, having subjected them to reason, have overcome their carnal desires, and become the kingdom of God. There all things are so disposed, that that which is most chief and excellent in man, governs those parts which we have in common with the brutes, though they struggle against it; nay even that in man which is excellent is subjected to a yet greater, namely, the very Truth, the Son of God. For it would not be able to govern what is inferior to it, if it were not subject to what is above [p. 155] it. And this is the peace which is given on earth to men of good will.

Aug., Retract., i, 19: No man can attain in this life that there be not in his members a law resisting the law of his mind. But the peacemakers attain thus far by overcoming the lusts of the flesh, that in time they come to a most perfect peace.

Pseudo-Chrys.: The peacemakers with others are not only those who reconcile enemies, but those who unmindful of wrongs cultivate peace. That peace only is blessed which is lodged in the heart, and does not consist only in words. And they who love peace, they are the sons of peace.

Hilary: The blessedness of the peacemakers is the reward of adoption, “they shall be called the sons of God.” For God is our common parent, and no other way can we pass into His family than by living in brotherly love together.

Chrys.: Or, if the peacemakers are they who do not contend one with another, but reconcile those that are at strife, they are rightly called the sons of God, seeing this was the chief employment of the Only-begotten Son, to reconcile things separated, to give peace to things at war.

Aug.: Or, because peace is then perfect when there is no where any opposition, the peacemakers are called the sons of God, because nothing resists God, and the children ought to bear the likeness of their Father.

Gloss. ap. Anselm: The peacemakers have thus the place of highest honour, inasmuch as he who is called the king’s son, is the highest in the king’s house. This beatitude is placed the seventh in order, because in the sabbath shall be given the repose of true peace, the six ages being passed away.

10. "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

Chrys.: “Blessed are they who suffer persecution for righteousness' sake,” that is for virtue, for defending others, for piety, for all these things are spoken of under the title of righteousness. This follows the beatitude upon the peacemakers, that we may not be led to suppose that it is good to seek peace at all times.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., i, 2: When peace is once firmly established within, [p. 156] whatever persecutions he who has been cast without raises, or carries on, he increases that glory which is in the sight of God.

Jerome: “For righteousness' sake” He adds expressly, for many suffer persecution for their sins, and are not therefore righteous. Likewise consider how the eighth beatitude of the true circumcision is terminated by martyrdom. [margin note: vid. Phil. 3:2-3]

Pseudo-Chrys.: He said not, Blessed are they who suffer persecution of the Gentiles; that we may not suppose the blessing pronounced on those only who are persecuted for refusing to sacrifice to idols; yea, whoever suffers persecution of heretics because he will not forsake the truth is likewise blessed, seeing he suffers for righteousness. Moreover, if any of the great ones, who seem to be Christians, being corrected by you on account of his sins, shall persecute you, you are blessed with John the Baptist. For if the Prophets are truly martyrs when they are killed by their own countrymen, without doubt he who suffers in the cause of God has the reward of martyrdom though he suffers from his own people. Scripture therefore does not mention the persons of the persecutors, but only the cause of persecution, that you may learn to look, not by whom, but why you suffer.

Hilary: Thus, lastly, He includes those in the beatitude whose will is ready to suffer all things for Christ, who is our righteousness. For these then also is the kingdom preserved, for they are in the contempt of this world poor in spirit.

Aug.: Or, the eighth beatitude, as it were, returns to the commencement, because it shews the perfect complete character. In the first then and the eighth, the kingdom of heaven is named, for the seven go to make the perfect man, the eighth manifests and proves his perfectness, that all may be conducted to perfection by these steps.

Ambrose, in Luc., vi. 23: Otherwise; the first kingdom of heaven was promised to the Saints, in deliverance from the body; the second, that after the resurrection they should be with Christ. For after your resurrection you shall begin to possess the earth delivered from death, and in that possession shall find comfort. Pleasure follows comfort, and Divine mercy pleasure. But on whom God has mercy, him He calls, and he whom He calls, beholds Him that called him. He who beholds God is adopted into the rights of divine birth, and then at length as the son of God is delighted with the riches of the heavenly kingdom. The first then begins, the last is perfected.

Chrys.: Wonder not if you do not hear ‘the kingdom’ mentioned under each beatitude; for in saying “shall be comforted, shall find mercy,” and the rest, in all these the kingdom of heaven is tacitly understood, so that you must not look for any of the things of sense. For indeed he would not be blessed who was to be crowned with those things which depart with this life.

Aug.: The number of these sentences should be carefully attended to; to these seven degrees of blessedness agree the operation of that seven-form Holy Spirit which Isaiah described. But as He began from the highest, so here He begins from the lowest; for there we are taught that the Son of God will descend to the lowest; here that man will ascend from the lowest to the likeness of God. Here the first place is given to fear, which is suitable for the humble, of whom it is said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” that is, those who think not high things, but who fear. The second is piety, which belongs to the meek; for he who seeks piously, reverences, does not find fault, does not resist; and this is to become meek. The third is knowledge, which belongs to those that mourn, who have learned to what evils they are enslaved which they once pursued as goods. The fourth, which is fortitude, rightly belongs to those who hunger and thirst, who seeking joy in true goods, labour to turn away from earthly lusts. The fifth, counsel, is appropriate for the merciful, for there is one remedy to deliver from so great evils, viz. to give and to distribute to others. The sixth is understanding, and belongs to the pure in heart, who with purged eye can see what eye seeth not. The seventh is wisdom, and may be assigned to the peacemakers, in whom is no rebellious motion, but they obey the Spirit. Thus the one reward, the kingdom of heaven, is put forth under various names. In the first, as was right, is placed the kingdom of heaven, which is the beginning of perfect wisdom; as if it should be said, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” To the meek, an inheritance, as to those who with piety seek the execution of a father’s will. To those that mourn, comfort, as to persons who know what they had lost, and in what they were immersed. To the hungry, plenty, as a refreshment to those who labour for salvation. To the merciful, mercy, that to those who have followed the best counsel, that may be shewed which they have shewed to others. To the pure in heart the faculty of seeing God, as to men bearing a pure eye to understand the things of eternity. To the peacemakers, the likeness of God. And all these things we believe may be attained in this life, as we believe they were fulfilled in the Apostles; for as to the things after this life they cannot be expressed in any words.

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