“Blessed are the poor in spirit; theirs is the kingdom of heaven”
The readings this weekend introduce us to the important biblical concept of the “anawim” or “the poor of God.” These are those people, mostly but not necessarily economically poor, who know their need of God, and humbly seek his will in their lives.
The prophet Zephaniah in our first reading describes their basic attitude. They “seek the Lord, do his commands, seek righteousness, seek humility, seek refuge in the name of the Lord…do no wrong and utter no lies, a deceitful tongue shall not be found in their mouths.” St Paul to the Corinthians in our second reading, reminds them that “not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. Nonetheless, “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world …so that no one may boast in the presence of God”
And Jesus in our gospel, setting out the charter for the kingdom of heaven, describes what matters in the eyes of God: “Blessed are the poor in spirit; blessed are the meek, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, blessed are the merciful, blessed are the pure of heart, blessed are the peacemakers.” None of these attitudes cuts much ice in the eyes of the world, but they are all important for those who want to enter into the kingdom of heaven.
How many of our attitudes are “beatitudes,” how many exhibit the attitudes of the anawim, the poor of God, who are blessed by God?