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 the children of God.
'Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
(Church in Wales Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)
We call this reading from Matthew's Gospel 'The Beatitudes'. The word 'beatitude' comes from the Latin beatitudo meaning 'blessedness', and from the ancient Greek word for 'happy'. Each sentence starts with the words 'Blessed are' meaning perhaps that such people are happy, not just ordinarily happy but that they have God's joy and peace. We also find similar words in Luke's Gospel in Chapter 6.20-23.
These sayings are rather like Proverbs, and each sentence can be explored on its own. There are whole books written on the Beatitudes. We might say that these are "Be-attitudes", that is they are attitudes which when achieved show characteristics of the true Christian disciple.
Today I want to look at the first beatitude to see what we can learn. Well, we should note that it is not "Blessed are the holy", but "Blessed are the poor in spirit". So what does 'Poor in spirit' mean? Well when we are poor in spirit we are spiritually bankrupt. We have nothing without God. As Christians we start with nothing, and we must rely on God for everything. We are empty beings, and we need God's help to grow spiritually. However, no matter how spiritually bankrupt we are, if we start by asking God to help us, He will do so!
we come to You today empty and
Without You we are nothing,
without You we can do nothing,
and our life is not complete.
Feed us and nurture us
so that we may continue
to grow as Christians.
Here is a little more information on the Beatitudes: