Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. He said: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:1-3)
One thing that makes life interesting is contrast. Jesus loved contrast — maybe because he invented it. These short statements, which we call the Beatitudes, are masterpieces of contrast on many levels, the first being that Jesus gives a long chapter’s worth of content in few short, simple words. If I live to 100, I don’t think I’ll ever get to the bottom of the fascination in these eight sentences. Remember the Sermon on the Mount, which these statements begin, is given just at the early take-off point of Jesus’ ministry, and is directly mostly to the fresh and raw new disciples. No one but Jesus would have the guts to use words “blessed… poor…. kingdom” in the same sentence. What does blessedness have to do with being “poor in spirit”? We were created with a space in our heart and mind that only God can fill, so emptying it is the first step. What does “poor in spirit” have to do with “the kingdom of heaven”? Jesus is assembling a new kind of movement: the infinitely powerful empire of the humble. Got poor spirit?
Lord, forgive my efforts to domesticate you, to try to tame your wild, wonderful ideas. I want my life to be overflowing with your divine contrasts. Amen.