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Chapter 45

“The Poor in Spirit”

 

Satisfaction consists in the cutting off
of the causes of the sin.
Thus, fasting is the proper antidote
to lust (and gluttony);
prayer to pride, envy, anger;
(action to sloth);
alms to covetousness.
—St. Richard of Chichester

 

 

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:3)  The poor in spirit” are not attached to money or material things, position or power.  They are united to God.  They have more than enough of what they need, but they are not obsessed with what they possess.  Money matters, but it is not the most important thing.  Who can buy heaven, happiness, forgiveness, grace, peace, or true love.  No one can!  Only the Son of Man who is the Son of God can merit or “buy” these gifts from God for man.  He does allow us to share in His work of redemption, sanctification and salvation by our own suffering and sacrifices in union with Him.  Not even the wealthy have all that they want when it comes to spiritual goods. Rather, they have a harder time finding and acquiring them.  “Truly, I say to you, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 19:23)  Not impossible, just harder.  It is harder not to think that we are better or above others, more important than they are, when we have worldly authority or power.  It is harder not to become more full of ourselves and puffed up with pride when we are full of this world’s goods.  In short, it is harder to be humble or “poor in spirit” when we are rich in worldly possessions or power.

For this reason, Christ our Lord declared, “Many who are first shall be last, and many who are last shall be first.” (Matt. 19:30)  Many who are above others on the economic or social ladder here below, will be below them for all eternity in heaven above, and vice versa.  “For whoever exalts himself shall be humbled, and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” (Matt. 23:12)

That “the love of money is the root of all evils” is a lesson taught by St. Paul. (1 Tim. 6:10)  Do not sell your soul for thirty pieces of silver.  “For what does it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his own soul?” (Matt. 16:26)  Seek to please God, not men, and God will be pleased with you even when men are not.  As for those who have an abundance, “Use your worldly wealth to make friends for yourselves (as benefactor to the needy), so that when you fail (in this ability), they (the angels and saints) may receive you into everlasting dwellings.” (Luke 16:9)

 

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