Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God.
Matthew 5:3

The Gospel reading for today is called the Beatitudes. Beatitude can be understood with in the context of a blessing or it can be seen as God’s favour toward those who exhibit certain qualities in their life. The people who find favour with God are described as ‘blessed.”

The Beatitudes speak of the values and character which we associate with kingdom people. The Beatitudes say what kingdom people are like and tell us what is expected of Christians. In these verses of Scripture Jesus does not tell us who is blessed, he tells us what we need to be and what we have to do to be counted blessed. The beatitudes set out the qualities of those persons who are part of God’s kingdom.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God.” In the time of Jesus it was estimated that about 90 percent of the population lived in poverty. This beatitude does not address the material or physically poor; it refers to the person who is broken before God. The poor in spirit recognise their need for God and throw themselves on the mercy of God. The poor in spirit, put their trust in God, they depend on God for their daily life and existence. The poor in spirit acknowledge that their lives are not in their own hands.

This attitude is in contrast with people who are arrogant and proud. Kingdom people are humble and practise humility.

The beatitude teaches that God can only work in our lives when we acknowledge our need for him in our lives. Without this idea of brokenness we shut God out of our lives and they become meaningless experiences. I would like to suggest that we are being challenged by our text to worship God and to seek his assistance in all that we do.

If we do not worship God, we will make our own false gods. Gods that cannot save us, gods who lead us down the path of frustration and disappointment. Very often in life we experience road blocks and end up in cul de sacs because we fail to be poor in spirit. We live as though we make ourselves and believe that we can go it alone without any reference to God. When we adopt this approach to life we make a mess of our lives and we are very unhappy people.

The wise man/woman is the person who is poor in spirit. When we are humble God can help us. God cannot help those persons who are proud and arrogant; they shut God out of their lives.

St. Paul sums up our dependence on God and captures the meaning of the poor in spirit: “In him we live and move and have our being.”

The saints are those persons living and departed who are poor in spirit. These persons commit their lives to God and worship him day and night in his holy temple.

Blessed are the poor in spirit. This beatitude is also related to worship. If we acknowledge that we are dependent on God we will worship him. Your presence at mass this morning is a sign of your acknowledgement that you cannot exist without God. But there are many persons who do not give God any place in their lives and have no time for him. Many who do make time to attend church on Sundays or to take part in any form of religious worship. They live for the pleasures of life believing that the only thing they need to do is to eat, drink and be merry. But,  life without God is an empty experience.  Life without God takes us no where. Life without God is never fulfilled. To be able to live a full and authentic life one must be poor in spirit. If your life has come to a standstill or if you are searching for meaning and purpose in your life, see it as a call to be poor in spirit and let God lead your life.”

To be poor in spirit is to come to Paul’s conclusion: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” It is also to identify with Paul confession: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Wayne E. Isaacs

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