Then he looked up at his disciples and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.
“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. “Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. “Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep. “Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
Today’s gospel text from Luke is known as the Sermon on the Plain. It is very much like Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount. Both begin by referring to the poor, for the kingdom of God is theirs. This leads me to reflect on what it means to be poor. My first thoughts are about people who are unable to afford the necessities of life. But my mind immediately considers other ways in which people are poor.
We say a person is in poor health when he/she suffers from a chronic and debilitating disease. We might use the phrase “that poor soul” when we refer to a person who suffers from a tragic event in life. We can say similar things about people who suffer emotional and mental illness. Common themes present in all these examples of being poor are the concepts of suffering and the absence of something. Both lead a person to a sense of vulnerability.
Vulnerability is at the very heart of what we call poverty of spirit. And being poor in spirit allows us to hear God’s voice and see God’s actions in our lives. Without such poverty we tend to think we are able to control our own lives and everything revolves around us. With true poverty of spirit we are able to enter into the fullness of God’s love for us. As with any relationship, when we allow ourselves to love and be loved, we allow ourselves to be vulnerable.
Because God’s love is unconditional and absolute, we need never worry about our vulnerability. It is in realizing our poverty, weakness, and vulnerability that we can really call out to God in hope and in trust, thus enjoying the fullness of God’s kingdom, His love and His life.
—David McNulty is the Provincial Assistant for Advancement, Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits
Lord, it can be difficult to abandon ourselves to you with complete trust, allowing the Holy Spirit to be the soul and guide of our lives. We fear that our vulnerability may force us to strike out on new paths and leave behind our all too narrow, closed and selfish horizons.
Lord, increase our faith so we really believe that you want to bring us to a fulfillment that gives true joy and true serenity. Let us dare to be open to your surprises, especially when we anticipate a day filled with the humdrum of everyday life.
—Prayer is based on Pope Francis’ Sermon, May 19, 2013Please share the Good Word with your friends!