Blessed are the Poor in Spirit

02-13-2022Weekly ReflectionFr. Anthony Okolo, C.S.Sp.

Jeremiah in the first reading of today invites the people to trust in God for there is no other way ofsurvival except through God. He calls them to recognize there is strength in the power of God. In everysituation, God remains our strength and when we trust in Him, He gives us the grace to survive anysituation no matter how challenging that may be. The metaphor Jeremiah uses to describe a personwho trusts completely in God is that of a tree planted beside the water and stretches out its roots to thestream. Since the roots of the plant stretch deep into the stream it means that such a tree would alwayssurvive any drought because its roots are deeply inserted into the stream. In the same way, anyonewho trusts in God would survive any challenging times because God would cover the person with Hisgrace. The one who trusts in humans is described as a barren bush in the desert that enjoys nochanging season but stands in a lava waste of salt and empty earth. Paul in the second readingreminds the Church at Corinth that our faith as Christians is rooted in the fact that Jesus Christ rosefrom the dead. If Jesus had not risen from the dead our preaching would have been in vain and thatwould have made us the most unfortunate people but since Christ died and rose from the dead, ourfocus should be to live with Him in heaven.

We are presented with the beatitudes according to Luke’s account in today’s Gospel. In Matthew’saccount of the beatitudes, the setting was the mountain while Luke sets the location on level ground.Luke places it on level ground to reflect Jesus as someone who is down to earth and welcomeseveryone. His choice of level ground depicts the inclusiveness and simplicity of Jesus.

The focal point of the beatitudes is the blessing bestowed on the poor. In the words of Living Liturgy “Thepoor are especially loved by God, not so much because of what they are, but because of what God is,the compassionate defender of the weak and powerless.” Gustavo Gutierrez, an advocate of LiberationTheology, says “God has a preferential love for the poor, not because they are necessarily better thanothers, morally or religiously, but simply because they are living in an inhuman situation that is contraryto God’s will”. Right from the Old Testament time God has always shown special concern for the poor.

When the poor are pushed into the margins of society by the oppressive system of the rich and thepowerful the poor have no other place to go except to rely only on God for their survival. He has a specialconcern for the poor because He protects those who make Him their refuge. Hence, the beatitudes callus to evaluate our attitudes to the poor and what we consider as success in life.

According to Living Liturgy, this week’s gospel invites us to focus on the end game. Our purpose in thisearthly life is to get to heaven and bring as many people with us as possible. Do not let the physicaland material goals of your career and family distract you from the ultimate goal. When we live with oureyes on heaven, this life becomes far more vibrant and satisfying. Shift your focus from earthlyachievements to those of love much greater.