We move in our Ordinary Time readings this week from St. Mark’s Gospel to St. Matthew’s. (When we began Ordinary Time last week, at the end of the Easter season, we picked up St. Mark’s Gospel where we had left off before Lent began.) Today we hear the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount – the teaching of the Beatitudes.
Most of us can recite the Beatitudes by heart. And even those who can’t get them all or get them in the correct order know that the first Beatitude is “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.”
Macrina Weiderkehr paraphrases the first Beatitude in this way: “Blessed are those who are convinced of their basic dependency on God, whose lives are emptied of all that doesn’t matter. The Kingdom of heaven is theirs.”
In Poverty of Spirit, a beatiful extended meditation on the subject, Johannes Baptist Metz calls poverty of spirit “not just another virtue, one among many,” but “a necessary ingredient an any authentic Christian attitude toward life. Without it there can be no Christianity and no imitation of Christ.”
Today’s Gospel invites us to reflect on the depth of our understanding of our utter dependence on God. And not just to understand, but to accept that we cannot find rest in ourselves. To embrace the reality that (in Metz’s words) “at the core of our existence, a transcendental neediness holds sway,” a neediness that can only be satisfied by God.