Blessed are the poor in spirit

beato-angelico-sermone-della-montagnaHoly Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 5, 1-12.
Seeing the multitudes, Jesus went up into a mountain, and when he was set down, his disciples came unto him.
And opening his mouth he taught them, saying:
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall possess the land.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart: they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for my sake:
Be glad and rejoice for your reward is very great in heaven. For so they persecuted the prophets that were before you.

 The Beatitudes: A Wellspring of Life

The Gospel of the Beatitudes leaves a luminous imprint upon these dark days of the first fortnight of November.  We read the Beatitudes from Saint Matthew’s Gospel on the feast of All Saints; then on November 6th we hear the Beatitudes from Saint Luke’s Gospel. The Beatitudes are the very form of the monastic life.  The Rule of Saint Benedict is an ascetical and mystical flowering of the Beatitudes under the influence of the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of All the Just.  Chapter Seven of the Holy Rule — the Twelve Steps of Humility — is, in effect, a description of one whose life is inwardly illumined by the Beatitudes.  Mother Mectilde’s doctrine of the imitation of the Sacred Host (in Le véritable esprit) also corresponds, in its own way, to the grace of the Beatitudes. Every authentic development of the ascetical and mystical life springs from the Beatitudes.

 Apprenticeship in Adoration

Today, I should like to show you how the Beatitudes shape our particular charism of Eucharistic adoration. Silent prayer before the Most Blessed Sacrament, before the Eucharistic Face of Jesus, does not come easily to everyone. More often than not it demands a long apprenticeship, a patient endurance in the obscurity of faith, in the silence of hope, in the vulnerability of love’s self–offering. The Beatitudes, the very words of the Word, are a way of entering into relationship with the hidden Jesus of the Most Holy Sacrament.

 The Icon of the Nakedness of God

“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” When you go to adoration, you need bring nothing other than yourself.  Go before Our Lord with empty hands.  Go before Him in a great poverty: without thoughts, without words, without the security of a program and without expectations.  Look at the poverty of God in the Most Holy Sacrament.  The Host reveals the mystery of the poverty of God. The Host is the icon of the nakedness of God. Rarely do our depictions of the crucifixion depict the nakedness of Jesus — His absolute poverty — upon the wood of the Cross; the Sacred Host, however, is the sacramental presence of the nakedness of Christ who, “being rich made Himself poor, for our sakes; that through his poverty we might be made rich” (cf. 2 Corinthians 8:9). In the presence of such utter poverty who can keep up the pretense of claiming ownership over anything or of controlling anyone?  When we are tempted to run away from the silence of adoration, it us because we cannot bear the nakedness of the Host; it because we cannot bear to ourselves stripped of all the things to which we look for security and meaning.

 In the Light of Thy Countenance

Although we are accustomed to speak of “exposition” of the Most Blessed Sacrament, it is, in fact, we who are exposed to the penetrating gaze of Christ when we place ourselves in adoration before the Sacred Host. “Thou hast set our iniquities before thy eyes: our life in the light of thy countenance” (Psalm 89:8). The man who adores will become poor in spirit, and the man who is poor in spirit will adore.

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