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BLESSED ARE THE POOR

BLESSED ARE THE POOR
THE BEATITUDES OF JESUS ARE REVOLUTIONARY.

The Beatitudes present a model of happiness contrary to what is usually communicated by the media and by the prevailing wisdom.

Today, what is glorified is success at any cost, affluence, the arrogance of power and self-affirmation at the expense of others. According to the logic of this world, those whom Jesus proclaimed blessed are regarded as useless, “losers”.

BLESSED POOR

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

BLESSED ARE THE POOR -WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

It seems confusing because we ought to strive to be rich in spirit, not poor.

At a time when so many people are suffering as a result of the financial crisis, it might seem strange to link poverty and happiness.  How can we consider poverty a blessing? Does Jesus teach material poverty? Jesus is here talking about the condition of the spirit, not of the wallet.

Jesus loves everybody. Jesus wants to bless everyone, so why would he single out the economically poor for some kind of special blessing?

Economic poverty and sociological poverty often overlap, but not always.  There are the “sociological poor”; these include people who are marginalized and oppressed, rendered vulnerable and given over to all sorts of hardships for reasons not of their own making. They are deprived the basic dignities which should be accorded all human beings–and it their spirits are often crushed, they are often broken-hearted, as a result.

It goes far beyond merely keeping the commandments: trying to gain eternal life. It’s undergoing a profound change in all of our attitudes, our value system, to really come to know Jesus, to hear His message, to imitate His way of life, to follow Him. That will require profound conversion.

BLESSED ARE THE POOR

Jesus is talking more about an attitude, a way of knowing one’s need for God, which is a disposition of the heart and not simply economic deprivation.

“When you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind. Blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”                                                                                        Luke 14:13-14

We understand that material goods are not a be-all and end-all for anyone, or should not be. We understand that we need enough to have a full human life, but we don’t need excess. We understand that God made the world for all and not just for a few, and so we need to find ways to share the goods of the earth and the goods of our world so everyone has a chance for a full human life.

The poor in spirit are those who recognize their total spiritual destitution and their complete dependence on God. So that the logic of being more will prevail over that of having more!

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

DOES “POOR IN SPIRIT” MEANS TO BE HUMBLE?

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HOW REVOLUTIONARY WAS JESUS?

Was Jesus a Revolutionary?

Was Jesus, then, a revolutionary? Not in any sense that Lenin or Trotsky would have recognized. When people hear the words radical and revolutionary they instantly think of some aggressive, gun toting, anarchist that has motives to overthrow an earthly government, but that was not the intentions of Jesus. The word “radical” comes from a Latin word “radix” which simply means “to cut to the root” as in “radical surgery” to remove a cancerous growth. In this sense, Jesus was a radical with a radical message that was indeed meant to cut to the root of wrong and remove it from our lives.

THE ANCIENT WORLD BEFORE JESUS CHRIST

 The Mediterranean Sea was still a geographer’s main point of reference, if not the center of the world. In 2 A.D., a census of the Han dynasty showed that its people numbered around 57.5 million. The Roman Empire, which had around 45 million people in it at the time, did not know about any Chinese civilization.

map before Jesusmap before Jesus

If you want to know what it was like before Jesus Christ walked the Earth, all you have to do is read a few history books written before 0 AD. There was discrimination in Ancient Greece: Plato wrote in The Republic that it would be an ideal state that “every member of the community must be assigned to the class for which he finds himself best fitted.  Aristotle philosophized that people should be given goods and assets according to their merit.

Before Christ, except among the Jewish People, religion was a “blind search for God.” Life before Christ was filled with superstition, fear of the unknown and an attempt to make sense of a world and universe they could not possibly understand. Man made gods in his own image, usually celebrations of his vices or his needs.  Most of the stuff associated with the cave paintings is presumed to be associated with some form of shamanic practices, or more accurately nature worship or animism. 

Pre-Christian faiths were not uniform; their gods had no consistent meaning to all adherents, they had no central dogmas or tenets. The most famous god in Ancient Greek was Zeus.

Let us reflect at these times when slavery and subjugation of women was typical. From the dawn of human society every woman was in a state of bondage to some man, because she was of value to him and she had less muscular strength than he did.

Christianity women rights ancient history

No woman in Athens could own anything more than her own clothing, jewelry and personal slave. When she was ready to marry, her father or other guardian would choose a potential husband.  In the early days of the Roman Republic women were not even allowed to make suggestions, at least in public.

FATHER POWERS WERE LIKE PROPERTY OWNERS

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