Monday, August 31, 2015


"Ye have heard....And ye have heard....It hath been said..." Matt. 5

The first prophets, the earliest legislators, the leaders of young nations, the Kings, founders of cities and institutors of justice, the wise masters, the saints, began the domination of the beast. With spoken and sculptured word they tamed wolfish men, domesticated the men of the woods, held bar­barians in restraint, taught those bearded children, and softened the violent, the vengeful, and the inhuman. With the gentleness of the word or the terror of punishment (Orpheus or Draco), by promises or by threats, in the name of the gods of high heavens or the gods under the earth, they trimmed the nails, which im­mediately grew long again; put muzzles over the sharp-fanged mouths; protected the defenseless, the victims, pilgrims, women. The old law that is found with only a few variations in the Manava Dharmasastra, in the Pentateuch, in the Ta-Hio, in the Avesta, in the traditions of Solon and of Numa, in the judgmental maxims of Hesiod and the Seven Wise Men, is the first attempt, rough, imperfect and inadequate, to mold animal like behavior into a sketch, a beginning, a vague semblance of hu­manity.

This law reduced itself to a few elementary rules; not to steal, not to kill, not to perjure, not to fornicate, not to tyran­nize over the weak, not to mistreat strangers and slaves any more than was necessary. These are the social virtues, strictly necessary for a common life, useful to all. The legislator con­tented himself with naming the most ordinary sins, asked for a minimum of inhibition. His ideal rarely surpassed a sort of approximate justice. But the law took for granted the dominance of evil, the sovereignty of instinct, earlier than the law and still existing. Every instruction implies its infraction, every rule the practice of the opposite. For this reason the old law, the law of the first peoples, is only an insufficient channeling of the brute force eternal and triumphant. It is a collection of compromises and half-measures between custom and justice, between nature and reason, between the rebellious beast and the divine model.

Men of ancient times, carnal, physical, hearty, lusty, muscular, optimistic, sturdy, solid, hairy men with ruddy faces, eaters of raw meat, ravishers, cattle-stealers, mutilators of their ene­mies, fit to be called, like Hector the Trojan, "killers of men," strong, zestful warriors who, having dragged by the feet their slaughtered antagonists, refreshed themselves with fat haunches of oxen and of mutton, emptying enormous cups of wine; these men ill-tamed, ill-subdued to the law such as we see them in the Mahabharata, and in the Iliad, in the poem of Izdubar, and in the book of the wars of Jehovah, such men without the fear of punishment and of God would have been still more unrestrained and ferocious. In times when a head was asked for an eye, an arm for a finger, and a hundred lives for a life, a law of retaliation which asked only an eye for an eye and a life for a life was a notable victory of generosity, appalling though it seems after the teaching of Jesus.

But the law was more often disobeyed than observed; the strong endured it against their will, the powerful who ought to have protected it, evaded it; the bad violated it openly; the weak cheated it. And even if it had been entirely obeyed by every man every day it would not have been enough to con­quer the evil perpetually boiling up, held down only for a moment, rendered harder to enact but not impossible, condemned but not abolished. It was a reduction of innate fierceness, not its total surgical removal. Men, shackled but reluctant, had learned to pretend obedience, did a little good where everyone could see them in order to be more free to do wrong se­cretly, exaggerated the observance of external precepts that they might the better betray the foundation and spirit of the law.

They had come to this point when Jesus spoke on the Mount. He understood that the old law was doomed, drowned in the stagnant swamps of formalism; the endless work of the educa­tion of the human race was to begin over again, the ashes must be brushed away, the flame of original enthusiasm must be blown into it, it must be carried through to its original desti­nation which is always malignancy, the changing of the soul. And for this it was necessary to terminate the old law, the dried and burnt-out old law.

With Jesus therefore begins the new law: the old is abro­gated and declared insufficient.

He begins at every example with the words—"Ye have heard it said" . . . and at once He substitutes for the old command, which He purifies by paradox or actually overthrows, the new command, "But I say unto you . . ."  Matt. 5:21-22.

With these "buts" a new phase of the human education be­gins. It is not the fault of Jesus if we are still groping along in the twilight of very early dawn.


Powerless Greek Philosophers and the cowardly sect of the Satan Worshippers,—these are serious-minded men who can understand plain facts but cannot interpret those facts but merely repeat and spoil them—have always looked with unfriendly eyes on what is called the paradoxical. To save themselves the trouble of distinguishing between sacred paradoxes and those which are only a silly amusement, they make haste to pass judg­ment on all paradox as nothing else than the overturning of recognized old truths; hence, false and—they add, to clip the wings of vanity—as easy as possible to invent. One would suppose it seems to them more difficult to walk along the road already laid out, and to spell over line by line what was writ­ten before they were born by men who certainly had not their cowardly temperament.

But if these priests of the already-said would consider the few master ideas on which modern thought is living, or rather on which it is dying, they would discover that they are almost all overturning’s, that is to say, paradoxes. When Rousseau says that men are born good but that society makes them bad, he turns inside out the accepted doctrine of original sin; when the disciples of progress affirm that from the worse comes the better; when the evolutionist affirms that the com­plex springs out of the simple; and the monist that all diversi­ties are but manifestations of the One; and the Marxist that economic history is the basis of spiritual development; when the modern mathematical philosophers affirm that man is not as he has always been believed, the center of the universe, but a minute (animal) species on one of an infinite number of spheres scattered in the infinite; when the Protestants cry, "The Pope is of no account but only the Scriptures"; when the French Revolutionists say, "The Third Estate is nothing and should be everything"—what are all these people doing except over­turning old and commonly held opinions?

But Jesus is the greatest over-turner, the supreme maker of paradoxes, radical and without fear. This is His greatness, His eternal freshness and youth, the secret of the turning sooner or later of every great heart toward His Gospel.

He became incarnate to recreate men sunk in error and evil; He found error and evil in the world; how could He fail to overturn the maxims of the world? Read over again the words of the Sermon on the Mount. At every step it proclaims the desire of Jesus that what is low shall be recognized as lofty; that the last shall be first; that the overlooked shall be the preferred; that the scorned shall be reverenced, and finally, that the old truth shall be considered as error, and ordinary life as death and corruption. He has said to the past, be­numbed in its death agony, to Nature, too easily followed, to universal and common opinion of mankind, the most decisive "NO" in the history of the world.

In this He is faithful to the spirit of His race which in its very downfall always found reasons for greater hope. The most enslaved people dreamed of dominating other peoples with the help of the Son of David. The most despised race felt that glory was promised them, the people most punished by God believed itself the most loved; the most sinful was certain that it alone was to be saved. This absurd reaction of the Hebrew conscience became in Christ a revision of values, became, because of His superhuman origin, a divine renovation of all the principles followed and respected by humanity.

Buddha discovered something that Christ always knew, "Men are unhappy, all men—even those who seem happy." And Siddharta, to put an end to pain counseled the suppression of life itself. Jesus had another hope, more inspiring in that it appears ab­surd. He taught that men are unhappy because they have not found true life. Let them become the opposite of what they are, let them do the contrary of what they do, and the festival of happiness on earth will begin.*

Until now they have followed Nature, they have let them­selves be guided by their instincts, like the animals below them, they have accepted and that only superficially a provisional and insufficient law, they have worshiped lying gods, they have thought they could find happiness in wine, in flesh, in gold, in authority, in cruelty, in art, in learning; and the only result has been that their suffer­ing has become more intense.* The explanation is that they have lost the path, that they must turn straight around, re­nounce what seemed good, pick up what was thrown away, worship what was burned, and burn what was worshiped, conquer the animal instincts instead of satisfying them, strug­gle with their nature instead of justifying it, make a new law and live by it, faithfully, in the spirit. If until now they have not obtained what they looked for, the only possible cure is to turn their present life upside down, that is, to transform their souls.*

Our permanent unhappiness is a proof that the experiment of the old world has failed, that Nature is hostile, that the past is wrong, that to live like animals according to the elementary instinct of animals, only slightly furbished up and varnished with humanity, results in wretchedness and despair.

Those who have laughed at or wept over the infinite wretch­edness of man have seen dearly. The pessimists are right. Those who denounce our boasting, those who scorn our lack of strength, those who despise our humiliation, how can they be refuted?

Whoever is not born to wriggle contentedly in the worm heap, eating his particle of earth, he who has not only a stomach and two hands, but a soul and a heart; he whose soul is of finer temper because it has been so beaten upon, is bound to feel a horror of mankind. For hard, arid natures this horror changes into repugnance and hate; for others richer and more generous it turns to pity and love.

When we read Leopardi and consider how he lost (perhaps because of the imperfect Christians surrounding him) his youthful love of Christ and, eating his heart out in reasoning despair, ended with the despairing lines, "Tiresome and bitter is life, never aught but that"; who of us will have the insight to reply, "Be quiet, unfortunate man! If you taste nothing but bitterness, it comes from the wormwood you are eating; if you find life tiresome the fault is yours; you yourself have used the infernal stone of barren reasoning to cauterize those feelings which would have made your life cheerful or at least endurable"?

No, Leopardi was not mistaken, for when you see men as they are and have no hope of saving them, or changing them, and you cannot live like them because you are too different from them, and cannot succeed in loving them because you believe them condemned to eternal unhappiness and wickedness, when you feel that the brutes will always be brutes and the cowards always cowards and the foul always more sunk in their foulness, what else can you do but counsel your heart to si­lence, and hope for death? There is but one question: are men unchangeable, not to be transformed, not capable of becoming better? Or, on the other hand, can man rise above himself and make himself holy? The answer is of terrible importance. All our destiny is in that question. Among superior men many have not been fully conscious of this dilemma. Many have believed and still believe that the form of life can be changed, but not the essence; and that to man everything will be given except to change the nature of his spirit; that man can become yet more master of the world, richer and more learned, but he cannot change his moral structure. His feelings, his primary instincts will always remain as they were in the wild occupants of the caves, in the constructors of the lake cities, in the first barbarians and in the peoples of the most ancient kingdoms.

Others feel an equal horror of man as he has been and as he is, but before they sink into the despair of moral pessimism they look at man as he could be. They have a firm faith in his perfectibility of soul and find happiness in the divine but terrible task of preparing the happiness of their brothers.

For men who are truly men there is no other choice: either the blackest anguish or the boldest faith; either death or salva­tion. The past is horrible, the present is repellent; let us give all our life, let us offer all our power of loving and understand­ing in order that tomorrow may be better, that the future may be happy. If up to now we have erred, and the irrefutable proof is the black past from which we have come, let us work for the birth of a new man and a new life. There are but two possibilities: either happiness will never be given to men or, and this Jesus believed firmly, if happiness could be our ordinary and eternal possession there is no other price for attaining it but to change our course, transform our souls, create new values, deny the old, answer the "No" of holiness to the false "Yes" of the world. If Christ was mistaken, nothing remains but absolute and universal negation, resolute faith in nothing. Either complete or rigorous atheism, not the maimed hypo­critical atheism of the cowardly sects of today; or active faith in Christ who saves and resurrects us by His love.

Sunday, August 30, 2015


I send you out to found this Kingdom, the Kingdom of Heaven, of that higher righteousness which is love, of that fatherly goodness whose name is God; I send you out therefore to fight against those who uphold unrighteousness, the servants of materialism, the proselytes of the Adversary. They will defend themselves when attacked, and to defend themselves they will attack you. You will be tortured in body, crucified in soul, deprived of liberty and perhaps of life; but if you accept this suffering cheerfully to carry to others that righteousness which makes you suffer, this persecution will be for you an incontestable title to enter into the Kingdom which you have founded as far as was in your power.

  Matt. 5:11-12

Persecution is a material attack through physical, legal and political means. The persecutors can take away your funds, and the clear light of the sun, and divine liberty; they may break your bones, but you must endure more than mere per­secution. You must expect insult and slander. They will condemn you because you wish to change foul men into saints. Wallowing in the foulness of their animalistic behavior, they de­test the idea of leaving their filth. But they will not be satis­fied to strike only at your body, they will strike also at your soul. They will accuse you of all crimes, they will stone you with slander and political incorrectness. Hogs will say that you are filthy, asses will swear that you are ignorant, ravens will ac­cuse you of eating flesh, rams will drive you away as ill-smelling, the dissolute will cry out upon the scandal of your corruptness and thieves will denounce you for theft. But you must always rejoice because the insult of evil men is the con­secration of your own goodness, and the mud thrown at you by the impure is the pledge of your purity. This is, as St. Francis says, "the perfect joy." Beyond all the graces which Christ gives to His friends is the grace of conquering oneself and willingly enduring injury, contempt, pains, discomforts. All the other gifts of God are not ours to glory in, because they come not from us, but from God; but in tribulation and in affliction we can glory because that is ours. All the prophets who have ever spoken upon the earth were insulted by men, and men will insult those who are to come. We can recognize prophets by this, that smeared with mud and covered with shame, they pass among men, bright-faced, speaking out what is in their hearts. No mud can close the lips of those who must speak. Even if the obstinate prophet is killed, they can­not silence him. His voice multiplied by the echoes of his death will be heard in all languages and through all the centuries.
This promise brings the beatitudes to their end.
By means of the beatitudes, Christ fully explains who are fit to be the citizens of His new Kingdom. Those citizens are henceforth found and sealed; everyone can recognize them. The unwilling are warned, the uncertain are reassured. The rich, the proud, the satisfied, the violent, the unjust, the war­like, those who mock, those who do not hunger after perfec­tion, those who persecute and outrage, can never enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.* They cannot enter there until they are altogether conquered and changed, and have become the opposite of what they are now.* Those who live happily ac­cording to the world, those whom the world envies, imitates and admires, are infinitely further from true happiness than those others whom the world scorns and hates. In this exult­ing beginning Jesus has turned upside down the human hier­archy; now as He goes on He will turn upside down the values of life, and no other revaluation will ever be as divinely para­doxical as His.

Blessed or Born-Again

God indwelt and therefore fully satisfied. (Psa. 1:1)   "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers." Better translated born-again.

Blessed by God on this earth.  (Isa. 65:16) "Because he who is blessed in the earth will be blessed by the God of truth; and he who swears in the earth will swear by the God of truth; because the former troubles are forgotten, And because they are hidden from My sight!"

Matt. 5:3-11 - Attributes of those awaiting His return and of those in the Kingdom of God after His return.

3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."  (At His return)

4 "Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted." (At His return)

5 "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth." (At Christ's return)

6 "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled." (At His return)

7 "Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy." (At His return)

8 "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God." (At His return)

9 "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God." (At His return)

10 "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (At His return)

11 "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake." (Persecuted while on this earth before His return)

Saturday, August 29, 2015



These peacemakers are not the meek of the second beati­tude. The meek refrain from answering evil with evil; the peacemakers do more, they return good for evil, they bring peace where wars are flaring up. When Jesus said He had come to bring war and not peace, He meant war to evil, to Satan, to the world, to evil which is wrong, to Satan who is Death, to the world which is an eternal battle. He means, in short, war against war. The peacemakers are those who wage war upon war, those who calm, and those who bring about unity with peace. The origin of every war is self-love, love which becomes love of riches, pride of possession, envy of those more wealthy, hatred for rivals; and the new law comes to teach hatred for oneself, contempt for measurable goods, love for all creatures, even for those who hate us. The peacemakers who teach and practice this love cut at the root of all war. When every man loves his brothers more than himself there will be no more wars, neither great nor small, neither civil nor im­perial, neither of words nor of blows, between man and man, between class and class, between people and people. The peacemakers will have conquered the earth and they will he called the true sons of God, and they will enter among the first into His Kingdom.

Oxymoron-militant non-combatants. The peacemakers. This is the reproductive character, the man who being all the rest, therefore brings peace wherever he comes. And the great word concerning these peacemakers is, "They shall be called the sons of God," for in that they manifest the nature of the Father and the likeness of the Father more than anything else--making peace among the sons of men. Peacemaking indicates the effects upon others.

Jesus did not say: “Blessed are the pacifists,” but rather, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” meaning those who make peace. This is the first occurrence of “peace” in the New Testament, and this verse has special significance since Jesus is the only real Peacemaker. It was He who “made peace with the blood of His cross” (Colossians 1:20). Before there can be peace between man and man, there must be peace between man and God. Since His blood has reconciled God to man, “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). His disciples, therefore, can best be peacemakers themselves by urging men to “be ye reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20).

Friday, August 28, 2015



“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.”  Matt. 5:8

The Pure of Heart are those who have no other wish than for perfection, no other joy than victory over the evil which hunts us down on every side. He who has his heart crammed with furious desires, with earthly ambitions, with carnal pride and with all the lusts which convulse this ant-heap of the earth, can never see God face to face, will never know the sweetness of His magnificent pleasure and blessedness.

Oxymoron-Realistic Visionaries. The pardon of sin means a new vision of God. "Pure in heart" means much more than cleanness; we have wholeness, the undivided heart, and the heart that is utterly and absolutely loyal. This is the expression toward the King of the mercifulness described. "They shall see God."

No man can see God but only the appearance of Him as many did in the OT [Exod. 3:6]. The Father can be seen in Christ. It is attainable only by being detached from self-centered desires of the senses and by being on fire with love.

Thursday, August 27, 2015



“Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.”  Matt. 5:7

He who loves shall be loved, he who gives help shall find help. The law of retaliation is nullified for evil but remains valid for good. We constantly commit sins against the spirit and those sins will be forgiven us only as we forgive those committed against us. Christ is in all men and what we do to others will be done to us. "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." (Matt. 25:40) If we have pity on others we may have pity for ourselves; God can pardon the evil which we do to ourselves only if we pardon the evil which others do to us.

Oxymoron-Self-Enriching Benefactors. Now from passive to active, "The merciful." That is, those who give and those who serve. It is the activity of the life toward the suffering.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015



“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” 
Matt. 5:6

The righteousness which Jesus means is not the righteousness of men, obedience to human law, conformity to rules, respect for tradition and for the established transactions of men. In the language of the psalmists, the prophets, the saints, the just man is he who lives according to the will of God, because God is the supreme type of all perfection. Not according to the law written by the Scribes set down in the Bible, diluted by Tal­mudic subtleties, obscured by the restraints of the Pharisees; but according to the one simple Law which Jesus reduces to one commandment, "Love all men near and far, your fellow countrymen and foreigners, strangers and enemies." Those who hunger and thirst after this righteousness shall be filled in the Kingdom of Heaven. Even if they do not succeed in being perfect in all things, much will be pardoned for their endurance of the long vigil.

Oxymoron-Lusting Saints. This seems to be a retrogression, a going back. But it is a progression, a going forward. Who is the man that hungers and thirsts after righteousness but the man who himself is meek and possesses the earth, who has mourned and has been comforted, who is poor in spirit and has submitted to rule? What s hunger and thirst after righteousness? It is Divine discontent with everything unlike God. Do not make this a small and narrow personal experience. It is that, but it is infinitely more. It is the passion for the setting up of the Kingdom of God amongst men. It is the thing that makes you--if you are a Christly soul--hot, and restless, and angry, and discontented, in the presence of all the misadministration of the affairs of men, which result in the ruin and sorrow of men on every hand. "They that hunger and thirst after righteousness...shall be filled," they shall be satisfied, there shall come to such all that for which they hunger and thirst. Perhaps not today, perhaps not tomorrow; but it is certain whatsoever the appearance of today.

         These, then, are the passive characteristics of the character of the Kingdom; poverty of spirit, which submit to government and possesses the Kingdom; mourning over declension, which is comforted with the great comfort of God; meekness which is unconscious humility and willingness to submit, which possesses the earth; hunger and thirst after righteousness-a great passion for the Kingdom of God, which is filled in hope and at last shall be filled in actual realization.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015




“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.”  Matt. 4:4

Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. The afflicted, the weeping, those who feel disgust for themselves and pity for the world, who do not live in the prostrate stupidity of everyday life, who mourn over their own unhappiness and that of their brothers, who grieve over failures, over the blind­ness which delays the victory of light—because light for men cannot come from the sky if their own eyes do not reflect it —who grieve over the remoteness of that righteousness dreamed of again and again, promised a thousand times, and yet always further away through our fault and every one's fault; those who mourn over an offense received instead of in­creasing the wrong by revenge, and who weep over the wrong they have done and over the good they might have done and did not; those who care little about the loss of a visible treas­ure but strain after the invisible treasure; those who mourn, hasten with their tears the day of grace, and it is right that they shall someday be comforted.

Oxymoron-happy mourners "They that mourn." And here the evangelistic value is at once manifest. The first matter is initial.

         The man poor in spirit is so because he has learned his own incompetence, his own unworthiness; because he is conscious of his own failure, conscious that he cannot of himself take hold upon all the ideals that are being represented to him by the King. This man mourns over his own sin, over his own failure. This is the mourning intended. Jesus says, "They shall be comforted." The great word "comforted" is related to the word that Jesus used when He promised the coming of the Holy Spirit. The Comforter disannuls orphanage, takes hold of a man in his sorrow and assuages it, heals it. The poor in spirit, submitting to the Throne, and to the government of the King, is troubled immediately; he mourns over sin, and incompetence, and failure. That soul is comforted with the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, the very life and soul of the Kingdom.

Monday, August 24, 2015



“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” Matt. 5:5

The earth here promised is not the literal field of clods, nor monarchies with built-up cities. In the language of the Messiah, "to inherit the earth" means to partake of the New Kingdom. The soldier who fights for the earthly earth needs to be fierce; but he who fights within himself for the conquest of the new earth and the new heaven must not abandon him­self to anger, the counselor of evil, nor to cruelty, the negation of love. The meek are those who endure close contact with evil men and with themselves—often harder to bear—who do not break out into brutish rage when things go badly, but conquer their inner enemies with that quiet perseverance which more than sudden sterile furies shows the force of the soul. They are like water which is not hard to the touch, which seems to give way before other substances, but slowly rises, silently attacks, and calmly consumes, with the patience of the years, the hardest granites.

Oxymoron-unaggressive conquerors The meek are those who are obedient to the rule of the King; meekness, is the submissive spirit, the spirit of true humility, which is unconscious of humility; the spirit that rejoices in the Kingdom already established, on account of the comfort already given, and waits for orders, and does not obtrude itself. Cf. Psa. 37.

            As we read these words, "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth," we seem to hear those other words, "Come unto Me . . . for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls." The men, poor in spirit, mourning over failure, comforted by the One great Comforter, are meek; and "they shall inherit the earth," for they have partaken of the very spirit of the King Himself.

Sunday, August 23, 2015



Jesus sat on a little hill in the midst of the first apostles surrounded by hundreds of eyes that were watching His eyes; and someone asked Him to whom would be assigned this Kingdom of Heaven, of which He so often spoke. Jesus answered with the nine beatitudes in His sermon.

The beatitudes, so often spelled out even nowadays by people who have lost their meaning, are almost always mis­understood, mutilated, deformed, cheapened, distorted. And yet they epitomize the first of Christ's teaching, that glorious day!

"Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. 5:3; Luke 6:20) Luke leaves out the words "in spirit," seeming to mean the "poor" and nothing else; and many people after him (some modern and malicious) have understood him to mean the simple-minded, the silly. They see in the words only a choice between the bankrupt and the imbecile.

When He spoke, Jesus was not thinking either of the first or the second. Jesus had no friendship for the rich and de­tested with all His soul the greedy desire for riches, the greatest obstacle to the true enrichment of the soul; Jesus was friendly to the poor and comforted them because they had less com­fort than other people; He kept them near Him because of their greater need to be fed by loving words. But He was not so foolish as to think that to be poor, materially poor in the worldly sense of the word, is a sufficient title to enjoy the Kingdom, without any other qualifications.

Jesus never gave any sign of admiring that intelligence which is solely the intelligence of abstraction and the memory for phrases. Purely systematic philosophers, and metaphysical scholars, gropers in nature, devourers of books, would never have found grace in His eyes. But intelligence, the power of understanding the signs of the future and the mean­ing of symbols—enlightened and prophetic intelligence, the loving mastery of the truth—was a gift in His eyes also, and many times He grieved that His listeners and His disciples showed so little of it. For Him supreme intelligence consisted in realizing that the intelligence alone is not enough, that all the soul must be changed to obtain happiness, and the spirit quickened in God’s way, since happiness is not an absurd dream but eternally possible and within reach. But he fully understood that intelligence ought to aid us in this total transformation. He could not therefore call to the full­ness of the Kingdom of God the dull and the imbecile. Poor in spirit are those who are fully and painfully aware of their own spiritual poverty, of the faultiness of their own souls, of the smallness of the good that is in us all, of the moral poverty of most men. Only the poor who realize that they are really poor suffer from their poverty, and because they suffer from it try to escape from it. Very different these from men apparently rich, from those blind arrogant self-satisfied people who believe themselves fulfilled and perfected, in good stand­ing with God and man, who feel no eagerness to climb upward because they delude themselves with thinking they are already on high, who will never enrich themselves because they do not realize their own fathomless poverty.

Those therefore who confess themselves poor and undergo suffering to acquire that veritable wealth named perfection, will become holy as God is holy, and theirs shall be the Kingdom of Heaven; those complacent people on the other hand who drape themselves in self-satisfaction, taking no heed of the foulness accumulated and hidden under their outspoken conceit, will not enter into the Kingdom.
Oxymoron-Wealthy paupers. The first of the passive characteristics. "Poor in spirit." It means truly subject. The man who is poor in spirit is the man who is willing to be governed. The man who is not poor in spirit is rebellious, troublesome, creating discord in the Kingdom. This is the first thing. It is very simple! It is very sublime! If this life of mine is willing to be ruled, it is ruled. If this life of mine is willing to be governed, it is governed. If I will but take this life of mine and surrender it wholly to the King, the King will take charge of it and administer it, and I shall be in myself, when everyone else is excluded, a Kingdom of God; and I shall be in myself, when all others are included, a part of the Kingdom of God. "Poor in spirit "--theirs is the Kingdom of God.
        We never know the breadth and beauty and beneficence of God's humanity by looking at it from without. The poor in spirit are those in whom the pride of the will, and the pride of the intellect, and the pride of the heart, are alike bent to the royalty of the King. We obtain the Kingdom when we submit in poverty of spirit to the King.

Friday, August 21, 2015



The Sermon on the Mount is the greatest proof of the right of men to exist in the infinite universe. It is our sufficient justification, the manifest of our soul's worthiness, the pledge that we can lift ourselves above ourselves to be more than men, the promise of that supreme possibility, and the hope of our rising above the animalistic behaviors that we possess.

If an angel come down to us from the world above should ask us what our most precious possession is, the master-work of the Spirit at the height of its power, we would not show him the great wonderful oiled machines of which we fool­ishly boast, although they are but matter in the service of material and unessential needs; but we would offer him the Sermon on the Mount, and afterwards, only afterwards, a few hundred pages taken from the poets of all the peoples. But the Sermon would be always the one shining diamond dimming with the clear splendor of its pure light the colored poverty of emeralds and sapphires.

And if men were called before a superhuman tribunal and had to give an account to the judges of all the inexplicable mistakes and of the ancient infamies every day renewed, and of the massacres which last for a thousand years, and of all the bloodshed between brothers, and of all the tears shed by the children of men, and of our hardness of heart and of our disloyalty only equaled perhaps by our stupidity; we should not bring before this court the reasoning’s of the philosophers, however learned and fine-spun; not the sciences, short-lived systems of symbols and recipes; nor our laws, short-sighted compromises between ferocity and fear. The only thing we should have to show as restitution for so much evil, as atone­ment for our stubborn tardiness in paying our debts, as apology for seventy centuries of hideous history, as the one and ultimate offsetting of all those accusations, is the Sermon on the Mount. Who has read it, even once, and has not felt at least in that brief moment while he read, a thrill of grateful tenderness, and an ache in his throat, a passion of love and remorse, a confused but urgent longing to act—so that those words shall not be words alone, nor this sermon mere sounds and signs, but so that they shall be imminent hope, life, alive in all those who live, present truth for always and for everyone? He who has read it, if only once, and has not felt all this, he deserves our love beyond all other men, because all the love of men can never make up to him for what he has lost.

The Mount on which Jesus sat the day of the sermon was certainly not as high as that from which Satan had shown Him the Kingdoms of the earth. From it you could see only the plain, calm under the loving sunset light; on one side the silver-green oval of the lake, and on the other the long crest of Cannel where Elijah overcame the servants of Baal. But from this humble mount which only the hyperbole of the chroniclers called mountain, from this little rocky hill scarcely rising above the level earth, Jesus disclosed that Kingdom which has no confines or boundaries, and wrote not on tablets of stone like Jehovah, but on flesh-and-blood hearts, the song of the new man, the hymn of glorification.

"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that brings good tidings that publishes peace!" (Isa. 52:7) Isaiah was never more a prophet than at the moment when these words poured from his soul speaking of the 144,000 and their message at the end of the tribulation.

Mary also felt the message of Jesus deserved her response in John 11:2; 12:3; Luke 7:38.

Thursday, August 20, 2015



Among the fishermen of Capernaum, Jesus found His first disciples. Almost every day He was on the beach of the lake; sometimes the boats were going out, sometimes they were coming in, the sails swelling in the breeze; and from the wooden boats the barefooted men climbed down, wading knee-deep in water, carrying the baskets filled with the wet silver of dead fish piled together, good and bad, and with the old dripping nets.

They put out sometimes at nightfall when there was a moon, and came back early in the morning just after the setting of the moon and before sunrise. Often Jesus was waiting for them on the strand and was the first to greet them. But the fishing was not always good, sometimes they came back empty-handed, tired and depressed. Jesus greeted them with words which cheered them, and the disappointed men, although they had not slept, listened to Him willingly. One morning two boats came back towards Capernaum while Jesus standing by the lake was talking to the people who had gathered around Him. The fishermen came ashore and began to arrange the nets; then Jesus entered into one of the boats and asked them to put it out a little from the land so that He might not be pressed upon by the crowd. Upright near the rudder He taught those who had remained on the land, and when He had left speaking He said to Simon, "Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught." (Luke 5:4)

And Simon, son of Jonah, owner of the boat, answered, "Mas­ter, we have toiled all the night and have taken nothing, nevertheless at thy word, I will let down the net." Vs.5.

When they were only a short distance from the bank, Simon and Andrew, his brother, threw out into the water a large net. And when they drew it back it was so full of fish that the meshes were almost breaking, Then the two brothers called their partners in the other boat, that they should come to help them, and they threw out the net again and drew it up again full. Simon, Andrew and the others cried out "a miracle!" and thanked Jesus, who had brought them this good luck. Simon, impulsive by nature, threw himself at the knees of their guest crying, "Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord." Vs. 8.

But Jesus, smiling, said, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." Vs. 10.

When they went back to the shore they pulled the boat up on the land, and leaving their nets, the two brothers fol­lowed Him. And a few days after this, Jesus saw the other two brothers, James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners of Simon and Andrew, and he called them, while they were mending the broken nets; and they too said farewell to their father, who was in the boat with the sailors, and leaving the broken nets half-mended, followed Him. Jesus was no longer alone: four men, two pairs of brothers more deeply brothers in this common faith, were ready to accompany Him wherever He wished to go, to break bread with Him, to repeat His words, to obey Him as a father, and more than a father. Four poor fishermen, four plain men of the lake, men who did not know how to read, nor indeed how to speak correctly, four humble men whom no one else would have been able to dis­tinguish from others, were called by Jesus to found with Him a kingdom which was to occupy all the earth. For Him they left their faithful boats which they had put out into the water so many times, and so many times tied up to the wharf; they left the old fish nets which had drawn from the water thousands of fish; they left their father, their family, their home. They left all that to follow this man who did not promise money or lands and spoke only of love, of poverty and perfection. Thus if their spirit always remained too low to understand their master, always a little rustic and common, and if sometimes they doubted and were uncertain and did not understand His truths and His parables, and at the end abandoned Him, all will be exonerated to them for the candid, unquestioning promptness with which they followed Him at the first call.

Who among us today, among all those now living, would be capable of imitating those four poor men of Capernaum? If a prophet should come and say to the merchant, "Leave your bank and your counter"; and to the Professor, "Come down from your chair and throw away your books"; and to the statesman, "Give up your portfolios and your lies which are only nets for catching men"; and to the working man, "Put away your tools for I will give you other work"; and to the farmer, "Stop in the middle of the furrow and leave your plow among the clods, for I promise you a more wonderful harvest"; and to the factory hand, "Stop your machine and come with me, for spirit is more precious than metal"; and to the rich, "Give away all your goods, for you will acquire with me an inestimable treasure"; . . . if a prophet should speak thus to us, men of the present day, how many would follow him with the simple-hearted spontaneity of those fishermen of old? But Jesus made no sign to the merchants who stood trafficking in the open places, and in the shops, nor to those who observed the tiniest commands of the law and could re­cite by heart verses from the Bible, nor to the farmers rooted to their land and their live-stock, and certainly not to the affluent, surfeited, satisfied, who care nothing about any other kingdoms because their kingdom has long since been realized.

Not by chance did Jesus select His first companions from among fishermen. The fisherman who lives a great part of his days in the pure solitude of the water is the man who knows how to wait. He is the patient, unhurried man who lets down his nets and leaves the rest to God. The water has its quirks, the lake its fantasies, no day is like another day; he does not know when he goes away if he will come back with his boat full or without a single fish to cook for his dinner. He commends himself into the hands of God, who sends abundance and famine. He consoles himself for bad days by thinking of the good days which have been and which will come. He does not desire sudden riches, and is glad if he can exchange the results of his fishing for a little bread and wine. He is pure in soul and body. He washes his hands in water and his spirit in solitude.

Of these fishermen who would have died in the obscurity of Capernaum without anyone except their neighbors being aware of them, Jesus made saints whom men even today re­member and invoke. A great man creates great men; from a lethargic people he raises up prophets; from a debilitated people, warriors; from an ignorant race, teachers. In any weather fires are lit if there is a hand capable of kindling them. Jesus found among the men of the people of Galilee, His apostles.

Jesus did not seek armed warriors, men who would lay their enemies low, conquerors of provinces. His apostles were to fight; but the good fight of perfection against corruption, holiness against sin, health against sickness, spirit against matter, the happy future against the past, henceforth sterile. They were to aid Him in bringing His joyous message to the heavy­hearted. They were to speak in His name in places where He could not go, and in His name to carry on His work after His death.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


Nobody in Capernaum could remember having heard such a Rabbi. The Sabbaths when Jesus spoke, the Synagogue was full, the crowd overflowed out on the street, everybody was there who could come. The gardener comes, who for that day had left his spade, and no longer turned his water wheel to irrigate the green rows of his garden, and the smith, the good country smith, black with smoke and dust every day, but on the Sabbath washed, neatly dressed, his face still a little dusky, although scrubbed and rinsed in many waters like his hands, with his beard combed and anointed with cheap ointment (but still perfumed like a rich man's beard), the smith all whose days are spent before the fire, sweaty and dirty except this day which is the Sabbath, when he comes to the Synagogue to hear the ancient word of the Ancient of Days, the God of his fathers. He comes devoutly, but he comes too because his family, his friends, his neighbors come there, and he finds them all together, and he comes also because the day is long (all that long holiday without any work, without any hammer in his hand, without the pincers) and in Capernaum there is nothing to do on Sabbaths except go to the Synagogue. The mason comes, he who has worked on this little house of the Synagogue and made it small because the Elders—good, God-fearing people, but inclined to be stingy—did not wish to spend too much. The mason still feels his arms a little numb and lame from his six days' labor, no longer keeps track of the stones which he has laid in courses and the trowels full of mor­tar which he has thrown between the stones during the week.

The mason puts on his new clothes today and sits down on the ground, he who on all other days stands upright, active, watchful so that the work may go well and the employer be satisfied; the good mason too has come to the house which seems to him partly his own.

The fishermen have come too, the young and the old, both of them with faces tanned by the sun and with eyes half-shut from the constant glare of sunlight reflected by the water.

(The old man is handsomer because of the contrast of his white hair and white beard with his weather-beaten and wrinkled face.) The fishermen have turned over their boats on the sand, have left them tied to a stake, have spread the nets on the roof and have come to the Synagogue, although they are not used to being within walls and perhaps continue to hear a confused murmur of water lapping about the bow.

The peasants of the neighboring countryside are here too, prosperous farmers who have put on a tunic as good as any­body's, who are satisfied with the harvest almost ready for the sickle. They do not mean to forget God who brings the grain to a head and makes the grape-vine to blossom. There are shepherds come in to town that morning, shepherds and goat-herds with the smell of their flocks still on them, shepherds who live all the week in the mountain-pastures with­out seeing a soul, without exchanging a word, alone with their quiet animals peacefully grazing on the new grass.

The smaller property owners, the small business men, the gentry of Capernaum, all have come. They are men of weight and piety. They stand in the front row, serious, their eyes cast down, satisfied with the business of the last few days and satisfied with their conscience because they have observed the law without failing and are not contaminated. The line of their well-clad backs can be seen, bowed backs but broad and masterful, employers' backs, backs of people in harmony with the world, and with God, backs full of authority and of religion. There are also transient foreigners, merchants going towards Syria or returning to Tiberius. They have come from condescension or from habit, perhaps to try to pick up a customer, and they stare into everybody's face with the arrogance which money gives to poverty-stricken souls.

At the back of the room (for the Synagogue is only a long white-washed room a little larger than a school, than an inn, than a kitchen) the poor of the countryside are huddled to­gether like dogs near a door, like those who always stand in fear of being sent away. The poorest of all, those who live by odd jobs, by ungracious charity and also—oh, poverty!—by some discreet theft, the ragged, the vermin-ridden, the timid, the wretched; old widows whose children are far away, young orphans not yet able to earn a living, hump-backed old men with no acquaintances, strength less invalids, those who are incurably sick, those whose wits no longer rightly serve them, who have no understanding, who cannot work. The weak in mind, the weak in body, the bankrupt, the rejected, the aban­doned, those who one day eat and the next day do not, who never have enough to satisfy their hunger, those who pick up what others throw away, the pieces of dry bread, fish-heads, fruit-cores and skins; and sleep now here and now there, and suffer from the winter cold and every year wait for summer, paradise of the poor, for then there are fruits to be plucked along the roads. They too, the beggars, the wretched, the children, the sickly and the weaklings, when the Sabbath comes, go to the Synagogue to hear the accounts of the Bible. They cannot be sent away: they have as much right to be there as any one, they are sons of the same Father and servants of the same Lord. On that day they feel a little comforted in their poverty because they can hear the same words heard by the rich and the strong. Here they are not served with another sort of food, poorer and coarser, as happens in the houses where the owner eats the best and the beggar on the threshold must content himself with scraps. Here the fare is the same for the man of possessions and him who has nothing. The words of Moses are the same, everlast­ingly the same for him who owns the fattest flock and for him who has not even a quarter of lamb on Passover day. But the words of the Prophets are sweeter to them than those of Moses, harder on the great of the world, but kinder for the humble. The poverty-stricken throng at the back of the Syna­gogue waits every Sabbath for somebody to read a chapter from Amos or from Isaiah because the Prophets take the part of the poor, and announce the punishment and the new world. "And he who was clothed with purple shall be made to handle dung."

And behold on that Sabbath there was One who came ex­pressly for them, who talked for them, who had come back from the desert to announce good tidings for the poor and the sick. No one had ever spoken of them as He did, no one had shown so much love for them. Like the old prophets, He had for them a special affection which offended more fortunate men, but which filled their hearts with comfort and hope.

When Jesus had finished speaking they observed that the elders, the middleclass, the masters, lords, Pharisees, men who knew how to read and make money, shook their heads fore­bodingly, and got up, making wry faces and nodding among themselves, half contemptuous, half scandalized; and as soon as they were outside, muttered a grumbling of prudent disap­probation through their great black and silver beards. But no one laughed.

The merchants followed them, erect, already thinking of the next day; there remained behind the working men, the poor, the shepherds, the peasants, the gardeners, the smiths, the fishermen, and all the herd of beggars, orphans without inherit­ance, old men without health, homeless outcasts, friendless un­fortunates, penniless men, the diseased, the maimed, the worn-out, the rejected. They could not take their eyes from Jesus, they would have liked Him to go on speaking, to reveal the day of the New Kingdom when they too would have their re­turn for all this misery, and see with their own eyes the day and way of reckoning. The words of Jesus had made their bruised and weary hearts beat faster. A gleam of light, a glimpse of the sky and of glory, the hallucination of prosperity, of ban­quets, of repose and abundance, sprang up from those great words in the rich souls of the poor. Perhaps they scarcely understood what the Master meant to say, and perhaps the Kingdom glimpsed by them had some resemblance to a materialistic Land of Cockaigne. But no one loved Him as they did. No one will ever love Him like the poor of Galilee, hungering after peace and truth. Even those who were less destitute, the day-laborers, the fishermen, the working men, though less hungry for bread, loved Him for the love of those poor.

And when He came out from the Synagogue all those stood waiting in the street to see Him again. They followed Him timidly as if in a dream; when He entered into the house of a friend to eat they were almost jealous and some waited out­side the door until He reappeared; then, grown bolder, they detained Him and went along together beside the shores of the lake. Others joined them on the way, and now one and now another (they were braver under the open sky and outside the Synagogue) began asking questions. And Jesus paused and answered this obscure crowd with words never to be for­gotten.

Monday, August 17, 2015



Jesus taught His Galileans on the threshold of their shabby little white houses, on the small shady open places of their cities or the shore of the lake, leaning against a beached boat, His feet on the stones, towards evening when the sun sank red in the west, summoning men to rest.

Many listened to Him and followed Him because, says Luke: "His word was with authority." (Luke 4:32) The words were not wholly new, but the man was new, and new was the warmth of His voice, and the good done by that voice, overflow­ing from His heart and going straight to the hearts of others. The accent of those words was new, and new the sense that they took in that mouth, lighted by His look.

Here was no prophet of the mountains shouting in waste places, far from men, solitary, distant, forcing others to come to him if they wished to hear him. Here was a prophet living like a man among other men, a friend of all, friendly to the unfriended, an easy-going and companionable comrade, search­ing out His brothers where they work in the houses, in the busy streets, eating their bread and drinking wine at their tables, lending a hand with the fisherman's nets, with a good word for every man, for the sad, for the sick, for the beggar.

The simple-hearted, like animals and children, know in­stinctively who loves them, they believe him, are happy when he comes (their very faces suddenly transfigured) and are sad when he goes. Sometimes they cannot bring themselves to leave him and follow him to the death.

Jesus spent His time with them walking from one region to another, or talking, seated among His friends. Always dear to Him was the sunny shore of the lake, along the curve of quiet clear water scarcely ruffled by the wind from the desert, dotted with a few boats silently tacking back and forth. The western coast of the lake was His real Kingdom; there He found His first listeners, His first converts, His first disciples.

If He returned to Nazareth, He stayed there but a short time. He was to go back later, accompanied by the Twelve and preceded by the renown of His miracles, and they were to treat Him as all the cities of the world,—even the most re­nowned for comfort, Athens and Florence, have treated those of their citizens who made them great above others. After ridiculing Him (they had seen Him as a child, it is out of the question that He can have become a great prophet) they tried to cast Him down from the precipice.

In no city did He make a long stay. Jesus was a wanderer, such a man as is called a vagabond by the pot-bellied and inactive citizen rooted to his threshold. His life is an eter­nal journey. Before that other Jew who was condemned to immortality by one condemned to death, He is the true wan­dering Jew. He was born on a journey. Still a baby at the breast, He was carried along the sun-parched road to Egypt; from Egypt He came back to the waters and greenness of Galilee. From Nazareth He often went to Jerusalem for the Passover. The voice of John called Him to the Jordan: an inner voice drove Him out into the desert; and after the forty days of hunger and the Temptation, He began His restless vagabond life from city to city, from village to village, from mountain to mountain, across Palestine. Most often we find Him in Galilee, in Capernaum, Chorazin, in Cana, in Magdala, in Tiberius, but often He crosses Samaria to sit down near the well of Sychar. We find Him from time to time in the Tetrarchy of Philip at Bethsaida, at Gadara, at Caesarea, also at Gerasa in the Perea of Herod Antipas. In Judah He often stops at Bethany, a few miles away from Jerusalem, or at Jericho, but He did not shrink from journeying outside the limits of the old kingdom and from going down among the Gentiles. We find Him in Phoenicia, in the regions of Tyre and Sidon, and in Syria, if the transfiguration took place on the summit of Mt. Hermon. After the resurrection He appears in Emmaus, on the banks of His lake of Tiberius and finally at Bethany near Lazarus' house, where He leaves His friends forever.

He is the traveler without rest, the wanderer with no home, the wayfarer for love's sake, the voluntary exile in His own country; He says Himself that He has not a stone on which to lay His head, and it is true that He has no bed where He may lie down at night, nor a room that He can call His own. His real home is the road which takes Him along with His first friends in search of new friends. His bed is the furrow in a field, the bench of a boat, the shadow of an olive tree. Sometimes He sleeps in the houses of those who love Him, but only for short periods.

In the early days we find Him most often at Capernaum, His journeys began there and ended there. Matthew calls it "His city." (Matt. 9:1) Situated on the caravan route which from Damascus crosses Ituraea and goes towards the sea, Capernaum had become little by little a commercial center of some importance. Artisans, bargainers, brokers, and shopkeepers had come there to stay. Men of finance—as flies swarm on rotten pears—had come there; publicans, excise men and other fiscal tools. The little settlement, half-rustic, half a fishing village, had become a mixed and composite city where the society of the times—even to soldiers and prostitutes—was fully represented. And yet Capernaum, lying along the lake, freshened by the air from the near-by hills and by the breeze from the water, was not a prey to stagnation and decay like the Syrian cities and Jerusalem. There were still peasants who went out to their fields every day, and fishermen who every day went forth to their boats. Good, poor, simple, warm-hearted people who talked of other matters than money and gear. Among them a man could draw his breath freely.

On the Sabbath Jesus went to the Synagogue. Everybody had the right to enter there, to read aloud and also to expound what had been read. It was a plain house, a bare room where people went with their friends and brothers to reason together and dream of God.

Jesus stood up, had someone give Him one of the scrolls of the Scriptures (more often the Prophets than the Law) and recited in a tranquil voice two, three, four or more verses. Then He commenced to speak with a bold and forceful elo­quence which put the Pharisees to confusion, touched sinners, and won the poor, and enchanted women.

Suddenly the old text was transfigured, became transparent, belonged to their own times; it seemed a new truth, a discovery they had made, a discourse heard for the first time; the words withered by antiquity, dried up by repetition, took on life and color; a new sun gilded them one by one, syllable by syllable; fresh words coined at that moment, shining before their eyes like an unexpected revelation.