Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Daily - 12/3/08

Matthew 5:3

3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

I was going to send the entire list of Beatitudes. As I looked at them more closely, I learned that I didn’t really have that much to say about them. When that happens, it means that I have some studying to do. So … here we go. By necessity, I’ll be getting this information from various online sources, and will be providing links.

Link: Blessed Are The Poor In Spirit

The poor have a hard time providing for their own needs. They are forced to live simply. They are often dependent on the generosity of others to make ends meet. They need assistance. They are often uncouth and inarticulate since they never had the exposure to the culture of the affluent nor the opportunity for much education. Their interests tend to be immediate, about their daily bread. The range of their interests is limited so they cannot speak with deep insight about the social, economic and political forces that shape their lives.

The poor, therefore, are often ignored and excluded from the company of the affluent and the well-educated, who tend to regard them with condescension and to condemn them as shiftless, undisciplined, and undeserving.But if the poor are dependent on the generosity of others, is it right to lay the blame for this upon them? For accidents of birth or situation and lack of opportunity more than any fault of character may be to blame; just as the success of the rich is not cause for their self-congratulation.

St. Paul reminds us that the talents and circumstances that make success possible are also gifts. In fact, everything any of us has is a gift: "What have you which you have not received and if you have received it why do you glory as if you had received it not?" (1Co 4:7). When Our Lord said "Blessed are the poor in spirit: the kingdom of heaven is theirs," he was making clear that the poor are not to be excluded from the kingdom of heaven. They are welcome. The kingdom of heaven is theirs. And the rich are welcome too, if they are poor in spirit.

To be poor in spirit is to recognize that all we have is God’s gift: our very existence, our families, our health, our talents, our situations in life.

And Christ goes even further - even our successes. For he tells us that when we have done everything commanded of us we are still to remember that we are unprofitable servants (Lk 17:10). For only by God’s grace can we do anything to deserve everlasting life. We even pray under the impulse of the Holy Spirit (Rm 8:26-27; Mt 10:20).

The poor in spirit rejoice in their complete dependence on God. They find joy and security not in their possessions but in knowing God is taking care of them. They are secure like little children in the arms of their mothers and fathers. They rejoice not in their success but in their close relationship with God. They rejoice because their "names are written in heaven" (Lk 10:20).

The poor in spirit know Christ’s warning: "To whom more is given, more shall be expected"(Lk. 12:48) They recognize that the many gifts they have received - health, talent, beauty, wealth, education - come with a serious obligation to share their riches with those less fortunate and that they are not to squander their gifts of nature, nurture, and grace on vain self-aggrandizement or the empty pursuit of pleasure. They recognize that their abundance is given in trust to use for the coming of God’s kingdom, when God’s Will shall be done on earth as it is in heaven. They know they must use their gifts for noble purposes.

They work for social justice, for peace, for the alleviation of the crushing weight of poverty that burdens so many. They use their wealth and talents for good purpose to see that those who are truly needy are cared for. If they are poor in spirit the poor never allow their material poverty to make them bitter or jealous. If they are poor in spirit, the rich never let their advantages of birth, talent or wealth become a snare for them.Those who are poor in spirit, then, truly bring about God’s kingdom - a kingdom of justice, peace, and love. The kingdom of heaven is theirs.