Poor in Spirit
Books of the Bible Index of Homilies
Matthew Mark Luke John The Acts Romans 1 Corinthians 2 Corinthians Galatians Ephesians Philippians Colossians 1 Thessalonians 2 Thessalonians 1 Timothy 2 Timothy Titus Philemon Hebrews James 1 Peter 2 Peter 1 John 2 John 3 John Jude Revelation Genesis Exodus Leviticus Numbers Deuteronomy Joshua Judges Ruth 1 Samuel 2 Samuel 1 Kings 2 Kings 1 Chronicles 2 Chronicles Ezra Nehemiah Tobit Judith Esther 1 Maccabees 2 Maccabees Job Psalms Proverbs Ecclesiastes The Song of Songs The Book of Wisdom Sirach Isaiah Jeremiah Lamentations Baruch Ezekiel Daniel Hosea Joel Amos Obadiah Jonah Micah Nahum Habakkuk Zephaniah Haggai Zechariah Malachi
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Today we are confronted with the first of the eight Beatitudes of the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus begins to proclaim His way to happiness with a paradoxical proclamation: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven"(5:3). A surprising road and a strange object of bliss, poverty.
We must ask ourselves: what does "poor" mean here? If Matthew used only this word, then the meaning would simply be economic, that is, it would indicate people who have little or no means of livelihood and need the help of others.
But the Gospel of Matthew, unlike Luke, speaks of "poor in spirit". What does that mean? The spirit, according to the Bible, is the breath of life that God has communicated to Adam; it is our most intimate dimension, we say the spiritual dimension, the most intimate, the one that makes us human people, the deep core of our being. Then the "poor in spirit" are those who are and feel poor, beggars, in the depths of their being. Jesus proclaims them blessed, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to them.
How many times have we been told otherwise! You have to be something in life, be someone... You have to make a name for yourself... This is where loneliness and unhappiness arises: if I have to be "someone", I am competing with others and I live in obsessive concern for my ego. If I do not accept being poor, I hate everything that reminds me of my fragility. Because this fragility prevents me from becoming an important person, rich not only in money, but in fame, of everything.
Everyone, in front of himself, knows well that, no matter how hard he tries, he remains radically incomplete and vulnerable. There's no make-up that covers this vulnerability. Each of us is vulnerable inside. Its all from the same place. You can live so badly if you reject your own limits! You live badly. The limits are here within us. Proud people don't ask for help, they can't ask for help, they can't ask for help because they have to prove themselves self-sufficient. And how many of them need help, but pride prevents them from asking for help. And how hard it is to admit a mistake and ask for forgiveness! When I give some advice to newlyweds, who ask me how to carry on their marriage well, I tell them: "There are three magic words: may I, thank you, sorry. " These are the words that come from the poverty of spirit. You don't have to be pushy, but ask permission: "Do you think it's good to do this?", so there is dialogue in the family, dialogue between husband and wife. "You did this for me, thank you I needed it." Then you always make mistakes, you slip: "Excuse me." And usually, couples, new marriages, those who are here and many, tell me: "The third is the most difficult", apologize, ask forgiveness. Because the proud can't do it. They can't apologize: they are always right. They are not poor in spirit. But the Lord never tires of forgiving; unfortunately, we grow tired of asking for forgiveness (cf. Angelus, 17 March 2013). The tiredness of asking for forgiveness: this is an ugly disease!
Why is it difficult to ask forgiveness? Because it humiliates our hypocritical image. Yet living trying to conceal one's own shortcomings is exhausting and distressing. Jesus Christ tells us: being poor is an occasion of grace; and it shows us the way out of this toil. We are given the right to be poor in spirit, because this is the way of the Kingdom of God.
But there is a fundamental thing to reiterate: we must not transform ourselves to become poor in spirit, we must not make any transformation to do this because we already are! We are poor ... or more clearly: we are poor in spirit! We all need this. We are all poor in spirit, we are beggars. It's the human condition.
The Kingdom of God is for the poor in spirit. There are those who have the kingdoms of this world: they have goods and they have comfort. But they are kingdoms that end. The power of men, even the greatest empires, pass and disappear. So many times when we look at the news or in the newspapers we see people governing, powerful people and so that government that was there yesterday is no longer there today, has fallen. The riches of this world will disappear, and also the money. The old men taught us that the shroud had no pockets. It's true. I've never seen a moving truck behind a funeral procession: no one brings anything. These riches remain here.
The Kingdom of God is for the poor in spirit. There are those who have the kingdoms of this world, have goods and have comfort. But we know how they end up. He who knows how to love the true good more than himself truly reigns. And this is the power of God.
How did Christ be powerful? Because He has been able to do what the kings of the earth did not do: giving their lives for men. And that's the real power. The power of brotherhood, the power of charity, the power of love, the power of humility. This is what Christ did.
In this lies true freedom: those who have this power of humility, service and brotherhood are free. At the service of this freedom lies the poverty praised by the Beatitudes.
Because there is a poverty that we must accept, that of our being, and a poverty that we must seek, the concrete one, from the things of this world, in order to be free and to be able to love. We must always seek the freedom of the heart, which has its roots in the poverty of ourselves.
Dear brothers and sisters, good afternoon!
In today’s liturgy, the Beatitudes according to the Gospel of Matthew are proclaimed (cf. Mt 5:1-12). The first is fundamental. This is what it says: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (v. 3).
Who are the “poor in spirit”? They are the ones who know they cannot rely on themselves, that they are not self-sufficient, and they live as “beggars before God”. They feel their need for God and recognize every good that comes from him as a gift, as a grace. Those who are poor in spirit treasure what they receive. Therefore, they desire that no gift should go to waste. Today, I would like to pause on this typical aspect of the poor in spirit: not to waste. The poor in spirit try not to waste anything. Jesus shows us the importance of not wasting. For example, after the multiplication of the loaves and the fish, he asks that the leftover food be gathered so that nothing would be wasted (cf. Jn 6:12). Not wasting allows us to appreciate the value of ourselves, of people and of things. Unfortunately, however, there is a principle that is often disregarded, above all in more affluent societies where the culture of waste, the throw-away culture is predominant. Both are a plague. So, I would like to propose to you three challenges against the waste mentality, the throw-away mentality.
The first challenge: not to waste the gift that we are. Each one of us is good, independent of the gifts we have. Every woman, every man, is rich not only in talents, but in dignity. He or she is loved by God, is valuable, is precious. Jesus reminds us that we are blessed not for what we have, but for who we are. And when a person lets go and throws him or herself away, he or she wastes themselves. Let us struggle, with God’s help, against the temptations of believing ourselves inadequate, wrong, and to feel sorry for ourselves.
Then, the second challenge: not to waste the gifts we have. It is a fact that about one-third of total food production goes to waste in the world each year, while so many die of hunger! Nature’s resources cannot be used like this. Goods should be taken care of and shared in such a way that no one lack what is necessary. Rather than waste what we have, let us disseminate an ecology of justice and charity, of sharing!
Lastly, the third challenge: not to throw people away. The throw-away culture says, “I use you in as much as I need you. When I am not interested in you anymore, or you are in my way, I throw you out”. It is especially the weakest who are treated this way – unborn children, the elderly, the needy and the disadvantaged. But people are never to be thrown out, the disadvantaged cannot be through away! Every person is a sacred gift, each person is a unique gift, no matter what their age or condition. Let us always respect and promote life! Let’s not throw life away!
Dear brothers and sisters, let us ask ourselves a question. Above all: How do I live poverty of spirit? Do I know how to make room for God? Do I believe that he is my good, my true and great wealth? Do I believe that he loves me, or do I throw myself away in sadness, forgetting that I am a gift? And then – Am I careful not to waste? Am I responsible about how I use things, goods? Am I willing to share things with other, or am I selfish? Lastly, Do I consider the weakest as precious gifts whom God asks me to care for? Do I remember the poor, those who are deprived of what is necessary?
May Mary, the Woman of the Beatitudes, help us witness the joy that life is a gift and the beauty of making a gift of ourselves.