Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Also Read: Mass Readings for 29 January 2023 Mass Reading Reflection for 29 January 2023
Gospel: Matthew 5: 1-12a
The rich are considered blessed from time immemorial; until Jesus turned the table and asserted, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” It is a statement difficult to digest and even more difficult to understand. It is not as simple as it appears to be. ‘The poor in spirit’ is different from the poor.
Pope Francis in his discourse on the beatitudes has explained it well. (Ref: Pope Francis, 05.02.20 General Audience, Paul VI Audience Hall, Catechesis on the Beatitudes – Poor in Spirit Matthew 5: 1-11)
The poor in spirit are those who know that they are poor, willing to accept that they are poor, and are humble enough to accept help. ‘Who would not accept assistance when one is in need?’ probably you may ask. Many do. Just rewind your own memory, how many times you have rejected a meal pretending to be not hungry? Only the humble can accept a gift and really appreciate it. ‘Poor in spirit’, means we are in need, we recognize that, and we humbly accept the fact as it is. We don’t hesitate to ask who can help us with our needs.
Some are in need of basics like food, clothing, housing, and so on. All are in need of healthy relationships. We all need forgiveness. There are those who look for care and tenderness. All are in need of knowledge and wisdom. All are in need of mercy and appreciation. We need strength to forgive and love one another. We need the courage to face life. We need steadfastness. We need emotional and spiritual support. Our needs vary.
Nonetheless, we are all in need. We are all dependent. We are all dependent on God; we are all dependent on one another.
We are poor in spirit when we are ready to accept and acknowledge our poverty and open our hands and hearts to receive with gratitude.
When we are poor in spirit we start to depend; depend on God in the first place. We would not shy away from depending on others, because we know that they are all part of the divine plan. We would be generous in using keywords like ‘please’, ‘sorry’, and ‘thank you’ as suggested by pope Francis.
The reward for being poor in spirit is breathtaking, it is the kingdom of heaven; the kingdom where God is the one and only ruler; where God is the provider. A kingdom where everything is in abundance. Jesus is not talking of something exclusive to the afterlife. If you are poor in spirit, you can enjoy the kingdom of God here and now as well as in the life to come.
Courtesy: Pope Francis, Catechesis on the Beatitudes, 05/02/2020, ff.