Matthew 5:1

How blessed

are the poor in spirit:

the kingdom of heaven

is theirs.

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A couple of years into our marriage - perhaps about 30 years ago - Marcel was asked to provide the praise and worship for a weekend retreat and I felt very strongly that I was to stay home. So I did.  Little did I know what the Lord had in store for me.

 

I was reading Matthew's beatitudes when my attention was drawn to the accompanying notes at the bottom of the page.  Perhaps some of you remember my post on Revelations 1: 9-16 where I mention how I had been given a New Jerusalem bible by my students and how I had learned so much from the footnotes.  Well, when I read the notes on the above passage, it's like a bolt of lightning struck me and I was granted a very deep healing that I had needed my whole life through.  These are the notes from my bible:

The word 'poor' is used with the moral connotations already found in Zephaniah, see Zp. 2:3, made explicit by 'in spirit', which is lacking in Luke.  Defenceless and oppressed, the 'poor' or the 'lowly' are open to the kingdom, and such is the theme of Matthew's beatitudes.  'Poverty' goes hand in hand with 'spiritual childhood' required for entrance into the kingdom - the mystery revealed to the 'littles ones'. They are the 'poor', the 'lowly', and both are the 'last' as opposed to the 'first'; the 'little ones' as opposed to the 'great'...Jesus identifies himself with the little ones and the wretched (25:45; 18:5).

After I gave my life to the Lord in 1986, I often heard taught or preached that the Lord had a great predilection for the poor and I always felt that I didn't really belong to that favoured group of people.  I grew up in a middle-class family with all of its advantages and at the time of my conversion, I had a roof over my head, food in my belly and clothes on my back.  I had great friends and a great parish community.  So how could I be one of the privileged poor in the eyes of the Lord?

But on the first evening, when Marcel was away, the Lord showed me something.  You see, while I was in my mother's womb, my life was attacked and it's only by God's grace and mercy that I'm alive today.  But what the Lord showed me, when I read the notes, is that in the womb I had indeed been "defenceless and oppressed'.  He showed me that from the very beginning of my life, I was an "anawim", one of the 'little ones', the 'poor ones' because I couldn't speak up for myself, defend myself or do anything to save myself.  God granted me a tremendous grace that evening; the grace to see that I too could belong to the anawim - the little ones of the Lord.  This revelation brought tremendous healing and peace in my heart as I literally felt something shift in my soul, and I became very grateful for the trial that I had undergone at a stage of my life when I was so small and tiny.  I have been grateful since then.

 

My Father in heaven decided that my life would be spared so that I could live out whatever destiny He had planned for me and fulfill my mission within His church.  But since then, I've known that God takes special care of His little ones, precisely because they are so little and must rely on Him in greater measure.  As I grow older, I see that the biggest lesson I can learn on this side of heaven is to embrace my littleness and let God take care of absolutely everything, because He is my heavenly Father who delights in taking care of everything!  I also see that He would like everyone to embrace their littleness because He would be given a free hand in lavishing every kind of grace upon them.  That is when the glory of His fatherhood shines out in splendour!