“Blessed are the poor in spirit…”
Reminds me of the first of AA’s Twelve Steps: “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.” The Twelve Steps and the Beatitudes have an uncanny similarity. They both address the destitute and leave no viable recourse but to run to a “power greater than ourselves to restore us to sanity.”
Everything Jesus teaches here, and everywhere else for that matter, targets those people who are aware that they’re spiritually incompetent. It is not perfection but the conviction of imperfection that leads to salvation. He might as well have said: “Blessed are ones who are convinced they can’t live the way God wants them to live in their own power.”
The poor in spirit “remember they are dust”––beloved dust.[i] Only when we’re aware of our own helplessness can God help us, and consequently help us help other helpless people.
Blessed are the desperate. That’s the message here. Thomas Merton says, “If we were incapable of humility we would be incapable of joy, because humility alone can destroy the self-centeredness that makes joy impossible.”[ii]
(An excerpt from my book: WHAT ON EARTH? Considering the Social Implications of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.)
If you’ve read the book, I’d very much appreciate it if you could write a brief review on Amazon.
[i] Psalm 103:14
[ii] Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation, 52.