Tuesday, September 15, 2009

6th Beatitude (continued): Blessed are the Clean of Heart For They Shall See God

We are continuing the commentary of Gregory of Nyssa on the sixth Beatitude, Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.

We have learned that even though in several places in Scripture it says we cannot see God, we see Him by inference in all that has been created by Him. We cannot see him with normal thought. We can grasp His Goodness. He can be grasped through His energies. This is the wonder and awe we experience when in nature.

But Gregory says there is more to the meaning of this Beatitude.

He says, The Lord does not say it is blessed to know something about God, but to have God present within oneself…. perhaps this marvelous saying may suggest what the Word expresses more clearly when He says to others, The Kingdom of God is within you.(Luke 17:21)

Gregory says

I think that in this short saying the Word expresses some such counsel as this: There is in you... a desire to contemplate the true good. But when you hear that the Divine Majesty is exalted above the heavens, that Its glory is inexpressible, Its beauty ineffable, and Its Nature inaccessible, do not despair of ever beholding what you desire. It is indeed within your reach; you have within yourselves the standard by which to apprehend the Divine. For He who made you did at the same time endow your nature with this wonderful quality. For God imprinted on it the likeness of the glories of His own Nature, as if moulding the form of a carving into wax.

But this image that God has implanted in each of us has been tarnished. It is coated with evil and remains hidden. Therefore, Gregory says, you wash off by a good life the filth that has been stuck on your heart like plaster, the Divine Beauty will again shine forth in you.

How do we wash off the filth, he asks next. This may seem to be impossible to many.

He writes

Our very birth has its beginning in passion, growth proceeds by way of passion, and in passion life also ends. Somehow evil is mixed up with our nature through those who first succumbed to passion, and by, their transgression made a permanent place for the disease. Now the nature of living beings is transmitted in each species by its descendants so that, according to the law of nature, that which is born is the same as that from which it is born. So man is born from man, the subject of passion from that which is subject to passion, the sinner from the sinner. Hence sin in some way comes into existence together with those who are born; it is born and grows with them, and at the end of life it also ceases with them.

Here he describes what we know today as the doctrine of ancestral sin or the Orthodox view of original sin. We are born with a tendency to sin. Therefore to acquire virtue requires much effort because of this human condition. This cleansing of the heart is not a simple matter making it hard fror most of us to attain virtue.

Gregory says,

Virtue, on the other hand, is hard for us to attain; even with much sweat and pain, zeal and fatigue, one can hardly establish it. This we are taught in many passages of the Divine Scriptures, when we are told that the way of the Kingdom is strait and passes through narrow paths, whereas the way that leads through a life of wickedness to perdition is broad and runs downhill with ease.

Yet we also know, he points out, that attaining virtue is not impossible according to Scripture. We find the stories of many holy men in the Bible.

The Gospel teaches us how to become pure.

More to come……

1 comment:

  1. Foarte interesat subiectul postat de tine, m-am uitat pe blogul tau si imi place ce am vazu am sa mai revin cu siguranta.
    O zi buna!