"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" - Jesus
So now the rubber hits the road. What to do with Jesus’ beatitudes?
This first one seems to hinge on what ‘poor in spirit’ means. In Luke’s version it’s much more straightforward - blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Much more straightforward but apparently impossible for me who has just this week bought a second house. I feel like the rich young ruler faced with the camel and needle dilemma! Am I ruled out unless I sell all my possessions?
OK, what about Matthew’s versions - seems more...spiritual, less economic? Is Matthew spiritualising Luke, so that he now understands Jesus to be talking about humility? This is probably the most popular interpretation, but not the only one. The interpretation I’m going with is poor in spirit = pious poor. In other words, those among the community of the (Holy) Spirit who are economically poor. This fits with Luke’s version, while acknowledging that Matthew is trying to avoid the idea that poverty is, in itself, a blessing.
That all said, what am I, rich as I am, going to do in response to this beatitude? I once was reading this beatitude with a poor person who, much to my surprise, exclaimed that she knew exactly what Jesus meant. Then she explained how that very morning she had found a box of food at her door just as she was thinking that she had nothing to give her son for school lunch.
So my challenge in February to see if I can find poor people and asked them if they feel blessed. I’m thinking about the street people who hang out in Kilbirnie. And as I’m after the pious poor, I’ll particularly try and find someone who fits that. Probably requires some tact… I’ll let you know how I get on.