To be “Poor in Spirit”
Jesus is preaching and teaching and according to the account we hear in Matthew’s gospel this week, Jesus is doing so on the side of mountain. Picture that: Jesus gathered with his disciples whom he personally chose to join him in his ministry along with others who are interested in what he has to say. We might envision them reclining near a tree or sitting on a boulder, all tuned in and listening to the profound words of the person they will come to know as the Son of God. Jesus is perhaps standing in their midst or he too may be reclined and simply having a heart to heart with his friends. And though this may be a relaxed and informal setting, the words Jesus will speak to them for the first time that day, are the same profound words we heard proclaimed at Mass today, some 2000+ years later. That in itself amazes me – the continued relevance of Sacred Scripture is truly amazing!
The Beatitudes are meant to provide for us a path to happiness and Jesus lists eight. What Jesus was teaching was radically different from what the people of that time, or even we today might think would make us happy. Of the eight Beatitudes, the first is the one that I wonder so much about. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.” What does that mean? What does it mean to be “poor in spirit”? Would we rather not be “rich in spirit” if our goal is to attain heaven? What I have learned from many good homilies and from the time I spent at St. John’s School of Theology is that to be poor in the context of this reading is to be humble. To be humble is to understand that I have a dependence upon God for my well-being and success. In other words; nothing I do is not without God’s assistance. All I have is of God. I am poor in spirit when I live knowing that I have what I have, who I am and what I can do, is only because of God. To be “poor in spirit” is to admit that I need God in my life – I am lacking without God and his love for me. Learning this, then hearing the Beatitudes proclaimed again, helps me to understand that the way in which Jesus spoke to his disciples and to us was in a way that calls us to engage, to think, to admit, to accept. Jesus was teaching us to be humble and compassionate and caring individuals. Asking questions, wondering and pondering Sacred Word is a beautiful spiritual practice; for when we do so, we engage, we interact with the Living Word of God, and the Word is God. I invite you to make it your spiritual practice to take the Word into your heart, be with it, question it and think about it, then listen to what God speaks to you. If you truly cannot make sense of it, have a conversation with another person, seek knowledge, talk to your priest or others who may have knowledge to share. In this way, the Word will continue to draw you closer to God and his people. Only then can we become one with God.
Take time this week to re-read the Beatitudes (Matthew 5.1-12) and then give time to how you might live them in your daily life. To be with the Word, is to be with God – ENJOY!
Blessings, Deb Rudolph