I'm still thinking about spiritual poverty. I'm thinking that this, the first beatitude, is the umbrella under which all the rest gather. So, if you ask yourself, just what is spiritual poverty, you might look to the other beatitudes for insight, as if each beatitutde were but a unique facet of the same beautiful diamond.
Similarly, the second half of each verse, which describes what the blessed one will receive, how he or she will be blessed, are also of a piece
. They all describe the Kingdom of God, which is to say, the Kingdom of His Blessings, forever and ever to those who have been called.
So let's ask ourselves this double question. Using the first beatitude as our starting point, we will look to the rest to elucidate the answers. First question: Just what is spiritual poverty? Second question: Just what does Jesus mean by "Kingdom of heaven," which the spiritually poverty-stricken, He says, will one day possess? Let's look to the ensuing verses for light:
First (v. 4): The spiritual impoverished mourn. They realize that life is difficult and the world is for many a terror-filled place, a place were every day much that is good and from God is lost, wasted, or trampled. Including people. So they mourn. And Jesus guarantees, they shall be comforted. And that's a Kingdom promise.
Second (v. 5): The spiritually impoverished are meek. They have seen enough of the headstrong types, the get-it-done-at-any-cost crowd, the get-it-right-or-you're-toast crowd, the pushing-to-the-front, cutting-in-line, pick-me-first crowd. Patience is more than a virtue. The patient, the tolerant, the ones who choose the last place, not the first, these will be called forward to take the place of honor. It's a Kingdom promise.
Third (v. 6): The spiritually impoverished hunger and thirst for righteousness. This is a hunger and thirst born of having once tasted the good things of God, who alone is righteous. It is a longing deep within that nothing in this world can satisfy. It is, at its base, a hunger for God. Those who have this kind of hunger will one day feast at a sumptuous banquet of righteousness that will know no end. It's a Kingdom promise.
Fourth (v. 7): The spiritually impoverished are merciful. Could that be because they know that mercy is their fundamental need? They're own, and also the world's. They have come to understand, once and for all, that they can make no claim on justice--before that bar they stand condemned. And so they have cried to God for mercy, and mercy they have received. Yes, and shall receive, in full measure, in the Kingdom. It's a Kingdom promise.
(to be continued)