Advent Day 3 of 50: The Poor in Spirit
At first hearing, the Beatitudes seem like they are in contradiction to the values expressed by the world. On closer inspection, we realize that yes, indeed, they are at odds with the perspective espoused by the world. Jesus presents a plan for happiness where humility is preferred over pride. True joy, he claims, is found in helping others, not in the material wealth we amass.
Anglican clergyman, J.B. Phillips presents a list of the worldly beatitudes which goes like this, “Happy are the pushers, for they get on in the world. Happy are the hard-boiled, for they never let life hurt them. Happy are they who complain, for they get their own way in the end. Happy are the slave-drivers, for they get results. Happy are the knowledgeable, for they know their way around. Happy are the troublemakers, for they make people take notice of them.” It sounds more in tune with what we’re used to, and herein we understand the tension between Christianity and the ways of the world.
In The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis writes that the lure of happiness is the “ever-increasing craving for an ever-diminishing pleasure.”
When Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” he invites us to contemplate the true treasures that are not based on the standards set by the world. A person who is poor in spirit doesn’t boast of his talents, or anything else for that matter, because he knows everything relies on the mercy of God. Those who are poor in spirit recognize their spiritual need. This knowledge is the first step in spiritual growth, much like saying “I don’t know,” opens oneself to fascinating world of education.
Do not mistaken this with the criticism that “ignorance is bliss” rather think that because of our blissfulness in the presence of God, we understand our humanity. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, the meek, the merciful, and the pure in heart…” are challenges for us in our everyday life, to understand the grandeur of God and our place as His creation.
We realize our emptiness apart from God. We reach out to others in a spirit of love and compassion, facilitated by our humility. We are here to serve.
On Holy Thursday, in the Armenian Church, a vartabed, that is, a master of the church’s doctrine has written a prayer that we use as the basis for today’s prayer. Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, we bow our heads in your presence. You, as Lord and God, humbled yourself by washing the feet of the Holy Disciples. You gave us an example and asked that we do the same with one another. Every time that I allow pride to swell in me, when I act out my pride through anger and bitterness, I become as those who betrayed you to the Cross. I place you on the Cross once again. Forgive me and help me to focus on your expression of humble service. Amen.
Cover: Luna & Gregory Beylerian for Epostle.net