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The First Beatitude

I stand feeling empty and afraid.

The dark night sky twinkles with a multitude of stars, and the sliver of the moon rests nonchalantly on its side.

Beyond this, deep darkness... galaxy beyond galaxy beyond galaxy...

                                                           and somewhere... God...

God who said through his prophet Jeremiah:                                                                    “ I will put my law in their minds                  and write it on their hearts...  

                 No longer will a man teach his neighbor,                                            or a man his brother, saying ‘Know the Lord’                                                                       because they will all know Me                                                        from the least of them to the greatest.” (Jeremiah 31:33, 34)

Jesus, the God-man, came preaching this Kingdom,                                                          God's law written on man's heart...


“Let's write a devotional based on the Sermon on the Mount,”                                              my friend Dom enthuses,                                                                      “Let's live it...”  and we both pause, look at each other, and admit our fear.

I go home and read Matthew 5-7 through and find myself reacting with dislike! It is just too much—too high—too impossible…

 However, day by day I read it through, and it begins to grow on me. 


So, I wonder about “living” the first beatitude. 


“Blessed are the poor in spirit                                                 for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.”

I have “is” circled in my Bible, and it draws my attention. This is no future promise; this is now!

So, I meditate on “poor in spirit” for days,                                                                       and I stand empty and afraid.


I am reminded of a poem I read years ago:           “If thou could’st empty all thyself of self,                   And like a shell dishabited,                          Then might He find thee on the ocean shelf,                And say, “This is not dead.”                     And fill thee with Himself instead.

  But thou art all replete with very thow                 And has such shrewd activity,        That when He comes He says, “This is enow            Unto itself—‘twere let it be,                         It is so small and full there is no room for Me".  (published anonymously in 1875)


 Can one, I wonder, empty oneself... to become poor in spirit?

I try to imagine “poor in spirit”...                                                                                       I am lost in impossibility…                                                                                                                                            and then comes the wonder: “Does this mean dependence?”                                            and Jesus’ “Apart from Me, you can do nothing?”

I am empty and afraid.   


I cannot do this by myself, to myself.

Oh…                                                                                                                                  Maybe that is the key...                                                     surrender to Your work in me,                                                             to open myself to Your Kingdom life,                                             to learn what it means to live the Sermon on the Mount.


Reflection & Practice: 

  • What images do the words “poor in spirit” bring to your mind and your heart?

Don’t rush to a quick response. Sit with this. Walk with it. Ponder it. Allow it to simmer in your mind and heart, and then write or draw what you discover.

  • ·   How does what you are learning relate to your interaction with your community--your family, your neighbors, your church community?


We invite you to share with us your thoughts                                                      that together we might become a company of people                                              learning to live the Sermon on the Mount                                                                   and to discover real Kingdom living.

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