The E-catechism: August 2001

  Open Bible The first beatitude





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Open Bible 
la bilbe 

Some groups are appropriately updating and renovating the evangelical texts!

The first beatitude

arc en ciel 
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs"
(Mat 5,3) 

This well known sentence of the Sermon on the Mount is the first of the Beatitudes named that way because the following nine sentences start with the same word " Blessed….Beati (in Latin)".

In the Gard region of France, a group of people regularly and willingly exchanges their understanding of a theme of the Gospel. From an apparent praise of poverty, they asked themselves what means concrete poverty.

Concrete poverty seems to be relative with the type of society in which ones lives. Jesus himself, although not a wealthy person, was not among the poorest (the son of a craftsman, close to the pharisaic low middle class). However, his disciples were among the lower class people with not many resources. During its ministry, Jesus made himself like them, poor and a nomad. Here too, one has to make relative the poverty. In a warm climate, one not needs a lot of clothes, in a rather fertile agricultural country, food was not missing much (except in drought period). In a place where hospitality was part of the usage in all the Middle East, every traveler would benefit of a network of solidarity, (even though his family did not always recognize Jesus, in different places he was welcome without restraint and sometimes with eagerness).

pauvreté en Afghanistan 

However, the abandonment of material possessions puts us in a difficult position. Up to what point should we be deprived of material things? Is poverty an absolute good in itself or complete poverty a disaster to be avoided? Having had to cope with material poverty, one person in the group testified that poverty does not really bring joy and serenity when it is too severe, at least in our present societies. Quickly people are separated from the society (see the homeless persons). You have the feeling of abandonment, of being paralyzed, of not being able to bring something to the others, socially, humanly and psychologically. Complete poverty means to be on the margin of the society, "Blessed are the poor" cannot mean that.

Then how to find the right attitude between to be related to the poor and not to be too close to the wealthy? Where do we fit in? Perhaps the solution is to be in a state of mind that allows us not to dwell too much on possessions. To have enough for a descent living without being tempted to accumulate wealth for the pleasure to accumulate them. To be able to distribute our surplus to those who are poorer than us, to share and to give and consequently fight against the poverty of the others, to make good use of our money…. for the others; to not speculate but use the material goods as a mean, no more, and not like an idol. Neither to idolize poverty to a point of pleasure, but if one has material difficulties, humbly accept them in trying to overcome them with courage. It is probably the meaning of poverty "in spirit".