Blessed are the Poor of Spirit
One of Matthew’s underlying themes is righteousness: what must I do, how must I behave, which commandments are most important in order to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, The Kingdom of God.
Matthew’s Chapter 19 is full of directives. One directive makes a young man go away“sad”. He would like to comply, to give all he has to the poor, but he doesn’t see how he can. He can’t imagine parting with all his possessions. He goes away “sad”.
Jesus tells the crowds that the only reason Moses allowed divorce was because of the hardness of your hearts. Jesus says there can be no divorce in a true and valid marriage.
In today’s reading, Jesus says yes, it is hard. Yes, it is difficult to enter into the kingdom of God. It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God. Again, it is not about what a camel can or cannot do. And it is not about wealth or poverty.
These directives can appear harsh and extreme. But, as with the crowd maybe we don’t fully understand Jesus’ words. Jesus is not in the strict sense talking about possessions or money or being rich or poor or divorce or what makes me happy or sad. He is not talking about what I have or don’t have, about who or if I should marry. Jesus is not talking about which of the many rules and regulations I have or not obeyed.
Jesus is talking about being poor in spirit. Jesus is speaking about how, when and where I follow him. Jesus is talking about relationships. Is my relationship to money or to any possession or anybody more important than my relationship with Jesus? Do I enter into relationships, into friendship, into marriage with any intention other than it being part of my journey into deeper intimacy with Jesus, with God? Are my possessions or lack thereof significantly part of my relationship with God? It is not easy to be poor of spirit. It is not easy to follow Jesus, but everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will inherit eternal life. Again, this is not a directive to give up, but it is a commandment to not let any person or thing come first. Come before Jesus. To be more important than my relationship with Jesus, with God. My relationship with Jesus with God is to be paramount – that is the directive, the invitation. The reward is the relationship itself – to be fully lived in the kingdom of God.
Blessed are the Poor of Spirit for theirs is the kingdom of God.
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