are the poor in spirit:
the kingdom of heaven
Linda - October 9, 2022 - Thanksgiving weekend - 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 been in need of 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. After all, 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, clothes on my back and a great job as a grade 7-8 teacher. 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 above, 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 almost from the very beginning of my life, I had indeed belonged to the anawim - the little ones of the Lord. This revelation brought tremendous healing and peace to my heart as I literally felt something shift in my soul, and I actually became very grateful for the trial I had undergone at a stage of my life when I was so tiny and vulnerable. I have been grateful ever since.
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 that weekend, 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 and become an "anawim" because when we do, He is then given a free hand in lavishing every kind of grace upon us. As St. Thérèse de Lisieux wrote in her autobiography, what truly attracts our Heavenly Father's attention is our littleness, our misery and our need of Him, especially when we acknowledge the truth of those realities. That is when the glory of His fatherhood shines out in splendour because that is when He can freely act on our behalf! And that is when - I suspect - we become "free to fly" like the beautiful butterfly in the image and are enabled to taste the goodness of the Lord in much greater measure. It is the "little ones" who inherit the kingdom.