The Ten Commandments of the Law are restricted to prohibiting those acts which would be sinful. The Beatitudes explain to us how we may attain Christian perfection or grace.
The Ten Commandments were given in Old Testament times to restrain wild, primitive people from evil. The Beatitudes are given to Christians to show them what disposition to have in order to draw closer and closer to God, to acquire holiness, and together with that, blessedness, which is the highest degree of happiness.
Holiness, arising from proximity to God, is the loftiest blessedness, the greatest happiness that anyone could possibly desire.
The Old Testament Law is a strict code of righteousness, but the New Testament Law of Christ is the law of Divine love and grace, the only means by which people are given the strength to live in full observance of the Law of God and to approach perfection.
Jesus Christ, calling us to the eternal Kingdom of God, shows us the way to it through fulfillment of His commandments. For their fulfillment He, the King of Heaven and earth, promises eternal blessedness in the future eternal life.
Our Saviour teaches:
1. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
2. Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.
3. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
4. Blessed are they that do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.
5. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
6. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
7. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.
8. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
9. Blessed are you when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in Heaven.
In each of these teachings of the Lord, one should observe the commandments on the one hand and the promises of reward on the other.
For the fulfillment of the commandments of the Beatitudes it is necessary to have contact with God through prayer, both internal and external. One must struggle against sinful inclinations through fasting, abstinence, and so on.
The First Beatitude
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
Blessed — joyful in the highest degree and pleasing to God; poor in spirit — humble, those who are conscious of their imperfections and unworthiness before God, and never think that they are better or more holy than others.
Spiritual lowliness is the conviction that our entire life and all our spiritual and physical blessings, such as life, health, strength, spiritual ability, knowledge, riches, and every good thing of life, all this is the gift of our Creator God. Without help from Heaven, it is impossible to acquire either material well-being or spiritual riches. All this is the gift of God.
Spiritual lowliness is called humility. Humility is the foundation of Christian virtue, because it is the opposite of pride, and pride introduced all evil into the world. Due to pride the first among the angels became the Devil; the first people sinned, their descendants quarreled and went to war among themselves from pride. The first sin was pride (Sirach, or Ecclesiasticus 10:15).
Without humility it is impossible to return to God. Nor are any of the other Christian virtues possible. Humility permits us to know ourselves, correctly to assess our worth and deficiencies. It acts beneficially in the fulfillment of our obligations to our neighbor, arouses and strengthens in us faith in God, hope and love for Him. It attracts the mercy of God to us and also...