Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!


Ave Maria!
Feast of All Saints—Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost—1 November AD 2015

Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”[1]

    By way of explanation, this feast in honor of all the Saints goes back to the year 610 when Pope Boniface IV rededicated the Pantheon (the pagan temple dedicated to all the “gods”) as a Catholic Church named for “Mary and the Martyrs.”  In the early days, almost all of the saints were martyrs, for it was relatively easy to know that they had died confessing the Faith of Jesus Christ—the inquiries into the holiness of people who died natural deaths came sometime later.  Pope Gregory IV (827-844) confirmed the November 1 date, while extending the feast to the whole Church, honoring all the saints (not just the martyrs).

    The Gospel today is from the Sermon on the Mount—the enumeration of those who are “blessed.”  It has always seemed to me that most of the Beatitudes are pretty straight-forward, but that one might ask, just what does our Lord mean by the “poor in spirit”?  Are they somehow different from those who are simply poor—those who have few possessions and resources in this world?  Most spiritual writers would say that a number of people can be called “poor in spirit.”

    The first group would include those who find themselves in economic poverty in spite of an effort to improve their lot, but who accept their position in life as part of God’s plan. This would seem to exclude those who have brought poverty upon themselves through laziness and find it convenient to live on the public dole—but would not exclude those who are genuinely trying to better themselves and need a little charity to get by.  Indeed, these poor provide the opportunity for “the merciful” who are also blessed by our Lord, to show mercy.

    The “poor in spirit” would also include those who have chosen to live the life of evangelical poverty in the religious life—the nuns and the monks and the friars who may even come from well-to-do backgrounds, but have denied themselves the use of material goods in order to live a more spiritual life, closer to God.

    Certainly the blessed “poor in spirit” must include those who give so generously to those in need as to leave themselves with very little.  We might say that these are “doubly blessed,” for these poor are also among the “merciful.”   The monks and the nuns may also fit into this category, for they are often able to be involved in works of charity because of their abstemious lives.

    The “poor” would also include those whose property was taken by evil people or simple misfortune, but who do nothing vindictive or dishonest to regain their wealth.  These maintain their composure and continue to respect the belongings of others, accepting their misfortune as part of God’s plan.

    Above all, the “poor in spirit” are the humble—they may be poor or wealthy, but they don’t think of themselves as being particularly special.  They know that whatever gifts and abilities they possess come mostly from God, and that they are no better or worse than the people around them.  They never go about flaunting the good things they have.

    This humility is important for it is the only antidote to inordinate pride—pride which is at the root of virtually all the sins of men and devils.  It is important for having humility is being Christ‑like.

    There has never been a more perfect man than Jesus Christ.  Possessing the powers of God, He could have had riches beyond imagination, done anything that appealed to Him, gone anywhere He wanted.  But our Lord was the quintessence of humility:  He was born in a primitive culture, lived in a backwater town, with relatively poor and humble parents, whom He assisted with His manual labor.  The King of Kings was born in a stable, and put down to rest in the animals’ feed box.  “The son of man hath not where to lay his head.”[2]  No greater humility is imaginable!

    Blessed are the humble, for they are Christ‑like in their humility.  Blessed are the poor in spirit—those who imitate Jesus, and Mary, and Joseph, making themselves like little children in their lowliness.  Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven!


[1]   Gospel: Matthew v: 1-12

[2]   Matthew viii: 20


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