Grace to you!
The first Beatitude is this: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).
You know, popular wisdom would say the opposite of this. It would say something like “Blessed are the rich …” The whole idea of “money is everything.”
A very wealthy friend once told me that what separates the greatest from the rest is that they know money doesn’t solve every problem. “Ideas go farther than cash.”
Concerning the first Beatitude, we might jump to the rash conclusion that Jesus was talking about material poverty. Not really. The qualifier is “in spirit.”
Many poor people are wealthy in spirit; many wealthy people are poor in spirit. Similarly, there are many poor people who aren’t poor in spirit as there are many wealthy people who are poor in spirit. It isn’t about material or fiscal poverty.
Poverty is a condition of insufficiency, isn’t it? One can be said to be poor when the person is in lack and can’t make up for the lack. We call them materially poor, those who lack the basic necessities of life like food, clothing, housing, car, etc.
How about “in spirit”? It’s perhaps a situation where we realize we are not “self sufficient” in terms of salvation. We are dependent with regard to God, for without his grace, we can’t achieve anything – anything. As Jesus said, “As a branch cannot bear fruit unless it remains with the vine, so you cannot bear fruit unless you remain in me. … Cut off from me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5).
Similarly, poverty of spirit seems to me like a condition of a soul that realizes that no matter how blessed we may be, we are not better or superior to others. Our blessings are a privilege. As Saint Paul said, “what have we that has not been given to us?” (See I Corinthians 4:7). To have this kind of disposition is to have a pass to God’s kingdom.
May I ask; when was the last time we dared confront our “pride” with the poverty of spirit? It’s important we do so.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Wednesday, June 8, 2016, Ordinary Time: 1 Kings 18:20-39; Matthew 5:17-19]
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.