Today’s Responsorial Psalm can be confusing, even for a believer. Imagine what the non-believer or seeker might think when reading, “Blessed the poor in spirit; the kingdom of Heaven is theirs!” Maybe their inner dialogue goes something like this, “well, I was in for inheriting a kingdom, but the poverty part just won’t fly with the family.” Curious, I searched meanings for being poor in spirit. One suggestion is to replace “poor” with humble. That works, but the search result that resonates even more is that being poor in spirit requires us to recognize our desperate need for God. In general, materially rich people do not want to be in desperate need of anything. But material wealth can be misleading. It will not result in the Kingdom of Heaven being ours. So, what is the link between recognizing our desperation for God in our lives, and this concept of spiritual poverty?
When in Doubt, Let God Reroute
When we give our troubles away to God, let Christ carry our bags. We not only lighten our load, but we are evidencing our trust in the goodness of the Lord. In our desperation, it takes humility to trust Him. Yesterday, I was desperate and turned to God and He answered immediately, literally! It was the third day of the International Social Innovation Research Conference, held in Milan, Italy. Each day I tried to follow walking directions from generous souls I met along the way, and each day I would end up lost, farther away from my destination than time permitted. Directionally challenged and anxious to defeat my apparent incapability, I set out at the end of the day from the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, certain I would finally figure it out before heading into the last day of the conference. Google maps works very well in most cities, but for some reason Milan even confuses this technological wonder of walking directions. Just before I would reach my next turn, the message “…Rerouting” would pop up. Wait a bit, then try the next suggested route, bam! Same thing… “Rerouting.” It was growing dark, my phone was almost dead, and I prayed, “Lord, just guide me and get me home!” The very next moment a taxi pulled up to let out another person, and I was back at the hotel within 5 minutes. I was so close, but no amount of rerouting worked as well as crying out for the Lord’s help. When in doubt, reroute, trust in the goodness of the Lord and He will get you home before dark.
Humility and Spiritual Poverty
Trusting, humble souls are content. Indeed, religion with contentment is a great gain (1 Tim. 6:6). When we humble ourselves enough to rely on God’s guidance and direction, we recognize the abundant contributions He wants to make in our lives. When we choose contentment over wealth, we are blessed because we are poor in spirit. Prior to becoming an academic full-time, I was in a fairly dark place in my career. I had a great corner office on a high floor overlooking Lake Erie, with floor to ceiling windows, VP title, but dreaded picking up my phone. The money and position were good, but the people I served and the stress they created were overwhelming.
They were all quite wealthy already and my job as a marketer was to make them wealthier. Those who want to be rich are falling into temptation and into a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge them into ruin and destruction (1 Tim. 6:9). One day, I prayed, “Lord, just put me with people who love you like I do. I am tired of making rich people richer. I want to make poor people richer! And… it would be awesome if I could pray with people before meetings about the work we do.” Again, all it took was being honest with myself and with God, and He not only guided me to academia, but He also brought me to a Jesuit, Catholic university and incredible experiences learning about true wealth from the poor all over the world.
Let’s keep trying to “Compete well for the faith” (1 Tim. 6:12) and accompany Christ in His work as did the Apostles, Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Susanna. They sure didn’t have Google Maps for their walking directions! Instead, they humbly trusted and followed Jesus’ guidance, blessed in their spiritual poverty.