‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven’
6th January 2022
‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven’.
(Gospel of Matthew Chapter 5, verse 3)
Many years ago I was fortunate to lead a school visit to Israel. Of the many amazing places seen, probably my favourite was the Church of the Beatitudes. This church is located on a small hill overlooking the Sea of Galilee, the traditional ‘mount’ on which Jesus delivered his Sermon on the Mount. I was taken by both the architectural and natural beauty of the place, which seemed to fit with what surely is one of the most beautiful Bible passages.
Essentially, The Beatitudes are eight one-line parables for living a richer, more fulfilled life. And for this reason Mr Humphries suggested they would make an excellent focus for our ‘Thoughts for the week’ during this Hilary term.
The Beatitudes are found in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke which are Christian sacred texts but their message has a universal reach to people of different religions and no religion. They contain wisdom about life and how to live well. To quote Mr Humphries they offer a ‘blueprint to finding happiness’. While each line begins with the word ‘Blessed are…’, more recent translations have used the words ‘Happy are…’ which suggests that living each of the beatitudes may result not only in a blessing, but it makes a person happy and joyful about life. While doing the right thing can be a hard path to tread, ultimately it is the path to a more meaningful and joyful life.
And so this week we consider the first of the Beatitudes, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of God’. This is not to suggest that material poverty is a good thing or that the poor are especially ‘blessed’. The poverty here refers to the ‘poor in spirit’ , which means those who are humble. It means we should not be proud or boasting but recognise how much we owe to others and to whom we should be thankful. It is about recognising our interdependence with one another and for most religious people, their ultimate dependence upon God. The poor in spirit are not attached to the material things of the world or status but place their value on things of eternal worth. They know their weaknesses as well as their strengths, but do not consider themselves greater than another.
And so as we enter 2022 we will reflect on those things in which we place greatest value and those to whom we can be thankful.
Happy New Year!