Beatitudes and The Many Ways to be Saved in Christ

St. Isaac the Syrian:
“But lo, the majority of men do not attain to such innocency [purity of heart], yet we hope that for their good deeds a portion is reserved for them in the Kingdom of the Heavens.  This can be ascertained from the understanding of the Beatitudes of the Gospel, which He stated differently in order to make known to us the many variations in the diverse modes of life within these same Beatitudes.  For in all the measures of every way upon which each man journeys to Him, God opens before him the gate of the Kingdom of the Heavens.”

One way to view the Beatitudes is as a ladder, a progression of spiritual growth.  However, St. Isaac points out that the Beatitudes may also be viewed as a list of ways, or examples of ways, the Holy Spirit works in Christ’s many-membered body to save the whole.  “The majority” of us will strive our whole life, yet the circumstances of our life will preclude the attainment of great purity of mind and heart.  But St. Isaac says that from understanding the Beatitudes we know that within the blessing of the Kingdom of Heaven there are many modes.  Some may mourn while others hunger and thirst for righteousness.  Some may have a meek “mode of life,” while others excel in peacemaking.  Of course these all together describe Christ, whose body we are.  

We need not despair when we see how spiritually poor we are, for the first Beatitude is for us:  Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.

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