Blessed are the poor in spirit


Bishop of Rome and Father of the Church

An excerpt from a Sermon on the Beatitudes

ORDINARY TIME Week 22: Friday

It cannot be doubted that the poor can more easily attain the blessing of humility than those who are rich. In the case of the poor, the lack of worldly goods is often accompanied by a quiet gentleness, whereas the rich are more prone to arrogance. Nevertheless, many wealthy people are disposed to use their abundance not to swell their own pride but to perform works of benevolence. They consider their greatest gain what they spend to alleviate the distress of others.

This virtue is open to all men, no matter what their class or condition, because all can be equal in their willingness to give, however unequal they may be in earthly fortune. Indeed, their inequality in regard to worldly means is unimportant, provided they are found equal in spiritual possessions. Blessed, therefore, is that poverty which is not trapped by the love of temporal things and does not seek to be enriched by worldly wealth, but desires rather to grow rich in heavenly goods.

The apostles were the first after the Lord himself to provide us with an example of this generous poverty, when they all equally left their belongings at the call of the heavenly master. By an immediate conversion they were turned from the catching of fish to become fishers of men, and by their own example they won many others to the imitation of their own faith. In these first sons of the Church there was but one heart and one soul among all who believed. Abandoning all their worldly property and possessions in their dedicated poverty, they were enriched with eternal goods, and in accordance with the apostolic preaching, they rejoiced to have nothing of this world and to possess all things with Christ.

Therefore, when the apostle Peter was on his way up to the temple and was asked for alms by the lame man, he replied: Silver and gold I have not; but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, arise and walk. What is more sublime than this humility? And what could be richer than this poverty? Though Peter cannot assist with money, he can confer gifts of nature. With a word Peter brought healing to the man who had been lame from birth; he who did not give a coin with the emperor’s image refashioned the image of Jesus in this man.

And by the riches of this treasure, not only did he help the man who recovered the power to walk, but also five thousand others who believed the preaching of the apostle because of this miraculous cure. Thus Peter, who in his poverty had no money to give to the beggar, bestowed such a bounty of divine grace that in restoring to health the feet of one man, he healed the hearts of many thousands of believers. He had found all of them lame; but he made them leap for joy in Christ.

Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen