Reflection on All Saints: 1st November 2020

Beggars for the things of the spirit

‘Just as the Ten Commandments are the core of the Jewish way of life and a law to follow, so the Beatitudes are the core of the Christian way of life. The Beatitudes are not commandments. They are not so much things to be done or rules to be kept as deep-down attitudes of mind. And, in fact, their observance is only possible with a deep love of God and of other people. They can never be kept fully – they are goals that are always calling us further. They never leave any room for complacency. One can never say about the Beatitudes what the rich man said to Jesus, namely, that he had kept all the commandments since he was young.’1

It is no coincidence that the first Beatitude is: Blessed are the poor in spirit, because theirs is the kingdom of God. ‘The Greek translation is “Those who become beggars for things of the spirit will live in fullness.” Now what does it mean to be a beggar? A beggar is a person who has nothing and knows he has nothing. Only he will experience human fullness who experiences the freedom of searching, of looking for, of being a beggar for the things of the spirit. This is a tremendous and beautiful statement of being on the way, being on a journey and never stopping, of never being satisfied.2

The beggar in us learns ‘to trust God more than the external circumstances of our lives.’3 The beggar in us gratefully receives every gift of insight, every gift of each enlightened moment, every gift of each experience of unconditional love, every gift of growth in awareness of our oneness with everyone and everything. Our response will then be to live the Beatitudes, to ‘cultivate and cherish what we own in common, especially in a time of fragmentation and in a time of a splintering of humanity.’2

Adapted: [1] Living space /Sacred Space website; [2] Pietro Archiati [3] Michael Marsh

The Gospel according to Matthew (5:1-12)

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”