The Oneida Daily Dispatch (Oneida, NY)
Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
—Matthew 5:3 NIV
The Gospel of Luke’s version of the Beatitudes says that “Blessed are the poor,” (Luke 6:20), where as Matthew’s version says “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” (Matthew 5:3) What this means is something that we should ponder. A person can be literally poor, i.e., have no money or material possessions, and yet be “rich and haughty in spirit.” On the other hand,it is possible to have lots of money and other material things and to be poor in spirit. Being poor in spirit entails that we should be humble and meek, and not arrogant and proud, as great wealth, or pretensions to wealth, can make us. Perhaps Luke’s formulation (blessed are the poor), is simply meant to illustrate that material poverty is the visible manifestation of being poor in spirit. Those who are materially poor realize that they are completely dependent on God for everything, from the food that sustains them to the clothes on their back and the roof over their heads. In reality, this is the existential condition of all of us, but those who trust in their wealth and their ability to take care of themselves don’t realize how dependent they are on God. Being poor in spirit goes hand in hand with the wisdom of trusting in God: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5 NIV) Finally, we should take note that this is the first of the beatitudes, and it comes with an implicit promise.