Tag Archive for: Beatitudes

Advent 4-50: Meekness, the Key to Gratitude

Advent Day 4 of 50: Meekness, the Key to Gratitude

Meekness is often equated with weakness. This is certainly far from the truth, for Jesus says, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Obviously, not a prize for the weak. In Jesus day, meekness meant control over oneself. In the New Testament, meekness means, “power under control.” Horses exemplify power. We gauge the speed of cars by referring to horsepower.  When a horse is harnessed and tamed, it is brought under control. This does not make the horse a wimpy animal, instead its power is focused and therefore channeled.

The blessing offered by Jesus is upon those who have taken control of themselves, through discipline and direction. Meekness is a way of saying we have lost (or are losing) the ego.  which skews our perception and prevents us from finding true fulfillment in life. We are taught to “believe in yourself,” while Jesus teaches, “Believe in me.” We hear, “Strive to be number one,” while Jesus says, “The last shall be first and the first shall be last.” We learn that the game-plan is “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.”  Jesus says “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” And of course we know the way of the world is, “Don’t get mad, get even.”  Jesus says, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

In all these examples, the focused and controlled soul is the one that finds true success. Like the wild horse, we are not losing strength, only channeling it.

Everyone, in whatever arena, whether sports figure or surgeon, musician or architect, laborer or employer, finds success through discipline and control.

As the Advent season is beginning, our perception of Christmas is beginning to take form. We are led by the bright Christmas star. God who is revealed and lives among us has invited us to join in the celebration. Our first steps begin in a spirit of meekness, losing the self, controlling the power within, and acknowledging our reliance on God. And here, we find feelings of gratitude and thanksgiving.

In America we have a special day set aside for Thanksgiving. When approached in a spirt of meekness, thanksgiving becomes an art. We find sincerity in that act of gratitude because with the ego out of the way, we channel our attention to the Divine, for we understand that everything and all is from God.

Today we hear the prayer of the Pilgrims on that first Thanksgiving, after enduring the hardships of life in the new world. O Lord our God and heavenly Father, which of Thy unspeakable mercy towards us, hast provided meat and drink for the nourishment of our bodies. Grant us peace to use them reverently, as from Thy hands, with thankful hearts: let Thy blessing rest upon these Thy good creatures, to our comfort and sustentation: and grant we humbly beseech Thee, good Lord, that as we do hunger and thirst for this food of our bodies, so our souls may earnestly long after the food of eternal life, through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, Amen.

Cover: Luna & Gregory Beylerian for Epostle.net

Advent 50: The Message

Armodoxy for Today/Advent Journey 50: The Message

The Nicene Creed – “We Believe in the Father almighty, creator heaven and earth…” You know it, “We believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, begotten of the Father… Light of Light, Very God of Very God…” It’s the standard by which we proclaim Faith as members of the Christian Church, whether in the Orthodox or Roman Catholic traditions or in mainline protestant churches, the Nicene Creed is the Confession of Faith… This is what we believe.

And while we proclaim faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and confess his birth, baptism, passion, crucifixion, burial and resurrection, there is something that is not proclaimed in the Creed. We remember the events of Jesus’ life without mention of his teachings! We believe in what he taught!

What are the teachings of Christ? You’d be surprised to learn them, because some of them sound so outlandish: “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” “Blessed are the meek.” “Do not resist evil.” “Turn the other cheek.” And “Love your enemies.”

These examples all come from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, recorded in the Gospel of St. Matthew chapters 5, 6 and 7. I refer to these three chapters as the “essential teachings” of Jesus. In fact, when students ask me how to read the Bible, I have them start at this point, because Jesus lays out what is asked of us by God. This Advent Season, we will be focusing on the Sermon on the Mount: The Essential Teachings of Jesus. Each one leading us to finding the Christ in Christmas.

Today, we begin with the reading of what is known as the Beatitudes. It is the introduction to the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus outlines what is considered a blessing. Contemplate these today. You may wish to keep a journal, written or mental, through the 50 days of Advent. When we finish at the Theophany, we will read these once again, it will be interesting to compare your thoughts then with what you hear today.

St. Matthew records this in his Gospel, “And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Cover photo: Luna & Gregory Beylerian for Epostle.net 2023

Order

Armodoxy for Today: Order

Chaotic life is difficult life. Chaos is characterized by random or unpredictable behavior. Hence, chaos carries a negative connotation because unpredictability leads to undesired results, disorganization and confusion. As people we opt for organization. The laws of gravity are organization on a large, astronomical scale, but on a human scale, we like things to fit properly and have order to them.

And then there’s life, which can be unpredictable, almost to the point of randomness, but not quite. In gambling casinos, slot machines are very popular, and though they are computerized and have schedule of payouts, we know that they are a very popular attraction as people try to beat the odds of a seemingly random spin of the wheels. In fact, most gambling games are based on certain formulas that include random factors, and yet the popularity of these games is a testament to people trying to beat the odds, or we can say, predict the unpredictable.

A chaotic life is a difficult life. Religion is a means of bringing order to the chaos by explaining the unexplainable. Something as beautiful as childbirth, for instance, is accompanied by excruciating pain. In the Book of Genesis, when God says to the woman, “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children…” (3:16) we find one such example of an explanation. With a curse by God, we receive an answer to the question of why does a lovely and natural event such as childbirth come with massive pain?

Much of life is filled with these puzzles, some are associated with the mundane, while others address issues of war, pain and suffering. Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do good things happen to bad people? These twin questions usually stimulate people to seek answers in the spiritual world, in religion. There seems to be a random distribution of goods in the world. Why are some born to poverty and struggle through all of life, while others, of no effort of their own, are born in prosperity and seem to enjoy a life of luxury?

Religion gives, or should attempt to give, answers to these questions. At the end, the object is to bring order from seeming chaos.

In Christianity, the answer is given by Jesus Christ. His answer is pure and asks that we engage with Him in such a way that “Thy Will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.” That engagement is the gravity that brings order to the chaos of our lives.

Today, by way of prayer, we read the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-10) – Jesus’ definition of a life lived with the order of God:

  • “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
  •  Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.
  •  Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.
  •  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.
  •  Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.
  •  Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.
  •  Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.
  •  Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.