St. Paul's Lutheran Church

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“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:3

Our blessedness depends on spiritual poverty. What can we do but plead to our heavenly Father from our own spiritual lack and solely depend on the alms He gives us in Christ our Savior who gave Himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age? How good and blessed it is to be totally poor when our riches come only from God?

But we get ourselves in great trouble when we strut about bragging about our own spiritual riches and believe ourselves worthy of God’s kindness and grace. Consider the words of St. Paul: “You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). In Christ, God gives us everything so that our poverty might be filled with eternal riches. We are made into His pensioners who are fed by His vast generosity, and out of thankfulness we offer up from what He gives prayers and praises.

Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” One who becomes spiritually poor and emptied of any pride or self-worth in this way fulfills the words of the psalmist who says, “Let the poor and needy praise Your name” (Psalm 74:21). And what greater or more divine poverty is there than one who, knowing he has no defense and no strength of his own, seeks out the daily help of another, namely Christ Jesus whose blood is worth an infinite value? Since he is aware that every moment of his life is fully dependent on God’s assistance, he confesses himself to be a man of prayer, crying out to Christ daily, “I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me” (Psalm 40:17).

As John Cassian (360-435) writes, “This [verse] is fairly applied in the sense we have it, because whoever continues in simplicity and innocence does not hurt or offend anyone. Being content with his own simple condition, he endeavors simply to defend himself from being destroyed by his foes; he becomes a sort of spiritual badger…by the continual shield of the rock of the Gospel…he is sheltered by the recollection of the Lord’s passion…he escapes the snares of his enemies” (John Cassian, Second Conference of Abbot Isaac, 11).

Heavenly Father, by Your Spirit, teach me humility and dependency, that I may not come to You with my pretense of worthiness, but fall before You as the impoverished sinner I am. Daily provide for me all my wants and needs of body and soul and be for me my salvation, hope and comfort. In Jesus’ name, amen.