Sunday Reflection

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Blessed are the poor in spirit; the kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

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

God blesses those who realize their need for him, for the kingdom of Heaven is given to them. 

While I am using the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew, I want to note that in Luke this first line of the sermon are variations on “blessed are you who are poor”. Matthew adds “in spirit”.  There’s a big difference between poor and poor in spirit.  Yet, both are radical and both are connected.  

The Sermon on the Mount turned the world upside down.  It’s one of the reasons I wanted to talk about them now, when it feels like the world is turned upside down.  From the very first word, Jesus was challenging his listeners.  Now, we read it and say “Oh yeah, that’s lovely” or we at least aren’t surprised or shocked by it.  It was shockingly new.  

First words are very important in ancient stories and writings.  Remember that these all come out of an oral traditions.  Remembering what was said matters, so things tended to be concise and every word important.  Especially the first words. 

Blessed.  Blessed are.  

In Jesus’s time a blessing meant…wealth.  Money.  Perhaps power.  May blessings shower upon you.  

Jesus turned this all…upside down with the Sermon on the Mount.  

Blessed are…the poor?  He’ll go on.  He’ll bless the meek, the hungry, the gentle, the merciful.  He turns the word blessed into something new.  Something that belongs to everyone and perhaps the overlooked most of all.  

grayscale photography of man praying on sidewalk with food in front
Photo by sergio omassi 

Jesus opens our eyes to see.  Even now.  He challenges us to rethink what we believe and how we behave and what’s important.  Monetary wealth is fleeting.  Jesus challenges us to see what is the real wealth.  

The poor.  He still challenges us.  We still seek money and wealth.  It’s called security.  There is nothing wrong with accumulating wealth, that’s not the point.  That’s just money (although it’s best not to hoard it).  And a little bit of security allows us to better do good work in the world.  We’re not challenging, or arguing, money. 

Blessed are the poor.  The poor.  Take a moment to think about the poor.  Keep digging.  It’s likely that eventually, we’ll come to some uncomfortableness.  Maybe phrases like: “he can get a job” or “she’s milking the system” or maybe even the word “lazy”.  We’ve all done it.  My challenge for you is to take a moment to sit with your own uncomfortableness with it.  When was the last time you saw a beggar?  What was your immediate response?  Fear–fear underlies most reactions?  The question that often comes up is “am I being swindled?”  

The Sermon on the Mount challenges us to open our eyes.  Not just to see what’s happening around us, but what’s happening within.  Jesus says, the Kingdom of Heaven is within.  Perhaps we need to do some looking…within.  

Then we come to Poor in Spirit.  There’s a lot of different theories about this.  But what happens if we take it exactly as it seems to us?  Poor in spirit.  Dispirited.  Down trodden.  That’s OK too. Again, digging within.  It’s really easy to look at someone else’s life and think: “Why are they so sad or dispirited, they have everything?”  “Why am I so sad or dispirited, I have everything?”  Wealth again.  

Comparison makes us uncomfortable.  Be ok with discomfort. That is what the Sermon on the Mount is teaching us. That is what Jesus is teaching us.  Look within.  See where we are lacking, so that we can become even better versions of ourselves, of Good People, and spread Goodness.  

Many interpretations consider poor in spirit not to be about a lack of courage or spirit, per se, but poor in will.  Weak in will.  Self will, to be exact.  Instead of outgoing, high-spirited ness for self gains, but spirit for the good of all.  Humility.  Humility that there is something more important than ourselves.  That is poor in spirit and a long sermon…

The last translation seems to deviate a lot from the norm: God blesses those who realize their need for him, for the kingdom of Heaven is given to them.  But I’d like to close with it.  Perhaps poor in spirit means that we have a need for support and help.  We have a need to surrender to God’s Grace.  If you’re feeling like the world is upside down and that your spirits are low, realize your need for him, and know that you are supported in God and in each other.  Reach out-reach out to help and reach out for help.  

We are all here for one another, even if we can not be together.  

God blesses those who realize their need for him, for the kingdom of Heaven is given to them.

Closing Blessing:  May we go out into the world and see the world with new eyes. May we look for those who are poor and offer them bread and wine.  May we look to those who are poor in spirit and give them Grace and comfort.  May we strive to see ourselves more clearly, and not shy away from the sides of ourselves that make us uncomfortable.  May we begin see each person as a light of God, ourselves included.  May God bless our imperfections and bless us in our times when we are poor and poor in spirit ourselves.  Amen

2 thoughts on “Sunday Reflection

  1. I love your interpretations!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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