Blessed are the Poor (“Deep Wisdom” 2 of 9)

By Bengt Nyman. License.

Read “Deep Wisdom” Part One.

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

Matthew 5:3

You say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing; not knowing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.

Revelation 3:17

God, in His goodness, has given us desires, and powers with which to pursue our desires. Sinful creatures that we are, we are prone to exalt in ourselves, and to exalt in what we can obtain for ourselves. For example, God gave us the desire for excellence, and the will and intelligence and skill to pursue it. He gave us the desire for sexual pleasure, and the will and personal qualities to attract potential mates.

And yet, in both of these instances, and in many others, we often forget the fact that it is God who made us; we belong to Him. He has the right to determine how we ought to make use of the desires and powers that He has given us.

The poor in spirit are those who humble themselves to recognize that they rely utterly and completely on God for everything, and that God has complete rights to dispose of them as He wishes. This means that they are poor — that is, they are detached from themselves and their desires, and from the things that they desire. They do not rely on excellence or sexual pleasure or anything else, but on God.

The poor in spirit have become like children, who must rely on their parents for everything. They are humble, hopeful, thankful, and they fear the Lord.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Our Lord called it poverty “in spirit,” because it is, in essence, an inner disposition. Nevertheless, on another occasion he said simply, “Blessed are you poor” (Luke 6:20). There is a real connection, then, between interior poverty and exterior poverty. We cannot cultivate spiritual poverty without making genuine sacrifices of material things, especially of those things upon which we most rely, which prevent us from truly being “poor in spirit.”

In this way, our poverty of spirit should ultimately become complete, as it is in Jesus Christ. That is, our reliance on God should extend even to the point of being willing to accept death for Him.

How does the “deep wisdom” of the poor in spirit prepare us to evangelize?

As evangelists, we must cultivate poverty of spirit. The Holy Spirit is the true evangelist and converter of hearts. We are only his instruments. Therefore, the more that we rely upon God as His true children, the better instruments we will be for the Holy Spirit. Because we are poor, we will be receptive to the inspirations of the Spirit. We will be able to say and do the things that need to be said and done to make God manifest to the persons we encounter. We will also reflect the poverty of Christ, and in that way, make known to them, by example, something of the character of the God we believe in.

Author: Mr. Mark J Hornbacher, OP

Mark is the Vice President of Programs and Director of Theology at St. Paul Street Evangelization. He has a MA in Theology and a B.Phil from Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, and a BA in Theology from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, MI. With Steve Dawson, he is the co-author of Ordinary Christians, Extraordinary Signs: Healing in Evangelization. He is a lay Dominican, and resides in Sterling Heights, MI with his wife Gayle, and their two sons.

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