2 Corinthians 1:1-7
Matthew 5:1-12


“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.”

She struggles along, back bent double, pushing her rickety little cart loaded with scrap. When I met her at our gate, I rounded up some old cartons and cans, stuff that someone will recycle, earning her a few pennies. I was rewarded with a smile straight from heaven. I have learned that she is caring for two grandchildren whose parents are lost to drugs. How they survive, I do not know. Yes, poverty is present all around us in all its baleful guises.

Becoming a Passionist long ago, I made a vow of poverty. In the long years since then, things may have been a little tight once or twice, but I have never known true poverty or insecurity, never shared the lot of so many all around me, crushed by lack of basic necessities, without freedom, power or knowledge. Compared to them, I am rich indeed.

But am I poor in spirit? Poor in spirit. What did Jesus mean? Perhaps he was talking about those who are deeply aware of their inner poverty, their emptiness facing God, knowing they cannot live without him. Such people are humble, servant minded, trusting in God’s love and living for others.

Blessed. Blessed? The Greek word μακάριοι (makarioi) suggests fortunate, happy, favoured by God. Remember, the angel said to Mary, “Blessed are you.” Such a treasure does not yield to those who go out looking for it. It is a gift to those dear to God when they empty themselves, let go of what is selfish, what is not of God. Thus the kingdom of heaven belongs to us here and now in our right relationships with others around us.

Passionists have a rule of life which says, at Number Three, “We are aware that the Passion of Christ continues in this world until He comes in glory; therefore, we share in the joys and sorrows of our contemporaries as we journey through life toward our Father. We wish to share in the distress of all, especially those who are poor and neglected; we seek to offer them comfort and to relieve the burden of their sorrow.

This is gospel living, “… seek to offer comfort and relieve the burden of their sorrow.”

Jeff Foale is an Australian Passionist living in Vietnam, a former New Guinea missionary with a passion for service of the poor and refugees and who loves life in all its forms and enjoys photography.