Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Blessed are the poor in spirit

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

Matthew 5:3, the opening verse of the Sermon on the Mount, commonly called the Beatitudes, begins with the statement, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

The old man has always had a tough time with this one. Why should the "poor in spirit" be blessed? If "spirit" suggests faith and belief in the resurrection, then why should this be good? Why not, instead, "rich in spirit" or "full in the faith of the Lord"?

Yet, the old man thinks, "spirit" does not refer to faith, rather, it refers to physical condition. Perhaps, the old man speculates, the answer lies in the deeper meaning of the Beatitudes. Christ's sermon is directed to the poor and the destitute. To these followers, he suggested that humility is preferred over pride. Then, as now, "blessedness" was a catch phrase for wealth, for to be blessed is to be wealthy. Yet Christ is turning the phrase around and saying, "wealthy are they who are poor."

Still, unsure of himself, the old man sighs and thinks that he will never fully understand the words of Jesus.  That is okay, for being unsure in the ways of the Lord, perhaps renders the old man "poor in spirit" and that is his ticket to heaven.

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