Archive for the Books Category

Poor in Spirit

Posted in Books, I couldn't have said it better on August 18, 2008 by Sarah Long

From Jesus of Nazareth by Pope Benedict XVI, in the section on the Beatitudes.

The poverty of which this tradition speaks is never a purely material phenomenon. Purely material poverty does not bring salvation, though of course those who are disadvantaged in this world may count on God’s goodness in a particular way. But the heart of those who have nothing can be hardened, poisoned, evil — interiorly full of greed for material things, forgetful of God, covetous of external possessions.

On the other hand, the poverty spoken of here is not a purely spiritual attitude, either. Admittedly, not everyone is called to the radicalism with which so many true Christians — from Anthony, father of monasticism, to Francis of Assisi, down to the exemplary poor of our era — have lived and continue to live their poverty as a model for us. But in order to be the community of Jesus’ poor, the Church has constant need of the great ascetics. She needs the communities that follow them, living out poverty and simplicity so as to display to us the truth of the Beatitudes. She needs them to wake everyone up to the fact that possession is all about service, to contrast the culture of affluence with the culture of inner freedom, and thereby to create the conditions for social justice as well.

The Sermon on the Mount is not a social program per se, to be sure. But it is only when the great inspiration it gives us vitally influences our thought and our action, only when faith generates the strength of renunciation and responsibility for our neighbor and for the whole of society — only then can social justice grow, too