Originally written between the years 393 and 396, this commentary discusses Matthew 5–7, and is regarded as a product of his early years of his priesthood. His exegesis reveals an unexpected spiritual insight for his limited training at the time of its composition.
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“Here, therefore, the poor in spirit are rightly understood as the humble and the God-fearing—that is to say, those who do not have a bloated spirit. And it would be entirely unfitting for blessedness to take its beginning from any other source, since it is to reach the summit of wisdom, for ‘the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord,’7 and on the other hand, pride is described as ‘the beginning of all sin.’8 Let the proud, therefore, strive after the kingdoms of the earth, and love them. But, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’” (Pages 21–22)
“‘An eye for an eye’ and ‘A tooth for a tooth.’1 Moderation is signified by these words, so that the penalty may not be greater than the injury. And this is the beginning of peace. But to have absolutely no wish for any such retribution—that is perfect peace.” (Page 80)
“For God graciously hears us, not on account of the repetition of our entreaties, but because He is always inclined to give us His light—not, indeed, a visible light, but the light which is intelligible and spiritual. However, as long as we have any inclination toward other things, that is, as long as we are seeking after the temporal things of darkness, we are not always ready to receive this light. Through prayer, therefore, it is brought about that the heart is turned toward Him who is always ready to give, provided that we are ready to accept whatever He may give.” (Page 121)
“Mourning is grief over the loss of things that are highly prized. Those who have been converted to God are losing the things which in this world they used to embrace as precious things, for they find no delight in the things which they used to enjoy. They are torn with grief until a love for eternal things is begotten in them. They shall be comforted, therefore, by the Holy Spirit—who on this account especially is called the Paraclete, that is, the Comforter—so that, when they have lost temporal happiness, they may fully enjoy the eternal.” (Pages 22–23)
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