I often wonder what Jesus means when he says in today’s gospel selection: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven. (Mt 5:3)
Oh, how I would love to rejoice and be glad, to possess the Kingdom of God. I so want mercy, to be consoled, to inherit the earth, to have my fill and on top of all that, see God. But, and here’s the rub, to get all that, you ask me, Jesus, to be poor in spirit (I’m not sure what that means), full of sorrow (Yep, I do know that means) to show mercy, seek peace, and suffer hate all because of you. Talk about not making any sense!
What seems to make more sense to me is to get the best job and make the most money. Then I’ll get all, or at least my fair share of the earth’s riches. People will look up to me. I will be able to buy my way out of any trouble I may get into if I have enough money. If somebody treats me with hate, I’ll sue the #$@#$ out of them and when I feel sorrow or any other negative feeling, I’ll just have a drink, and all will be well.
Well, that is, until the next morning, when all my crazy thinking will start over again, and I’ll end up having another night cap or two or three, depending on how many it takes to drown those feelings of sorrow, of being hated and of being not enough. At least I’ll have enough money.
That kind of thinking works for a while. I know. I tried it. For the long run however, I’m beginning to think maybe I should try Jesus’ way. Maybe being poor in spirit means being satisfied with enough and not needing more. Maybe when I feel sorrow, I can accept it as a part of the joy that comes with having loved and being loved by another person even if it was only for a brief moment in time. Maybe forgiving that person who doesn’t even know me but hates me because of the color of my skin will bring some peace both for me and for them. I don’t know for sure, but I do know the other way, absolutely does not work.
Thank you, Jesus, for showing me another way, a way that seems counter intuitive at first, but the more I try it, the more it seems to work. Help me today to keep trying and growing in Your way.
Dan O’Donnell is a Passionist Partner and a longtime friend of the Passionists. He lives in Chicago.