Sunday, December 5, 2010

Homily on the Beatitudes, Part 2: The Logical Progression of Desperation (as preached by an orthodox rebel)

"Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness..., the merciful..., the pure in heart..., [and] the peacemakers." Matthew 5:6-9

Divine blessing belongs to the virtuous. The "pure in heart" will "see God." As we saw in the previous verses (vs. 3-5), none of us are virtuous. This is not a mere matter of being "good enough" by our standards; it is about being "good enough" by God's standards. That is the secret to the mystery of Romans 3:12. We look at that verse in shock: "How can Paul say that? I see people do good all the time." You have seen our version of "good," our corrupt, fallen human version of it. It is only a shadow of true Goodness, the Goodness that belongs to God. Next to Him, our "goodness" pales and fails (Rom. 3:23). Next to His righteousness, ours is but filthy rags.

That, of course, is the point: it is not our righteousness that saves us, but His, His embodied in Jesus Christ (I Cor. 1:30 & II Cor. 5:21). That is the secret to the mystery of Matthew 5:6. We must hunger and thirst after righteousness because we have none of our own. It is the logical outcome of the desperation of vs. 3-5: if I have nothing, then I can only receive, and receive from elsewhere.

Epitaph: Those who follow the logic of desperation arrive at one conclusion: if I am to be a person of mercy, purity, and peace, then I must hunger and thirst for a righteousness not my own.

-Jon Vowell (c) 2010

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