Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey

Cycle A

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 5.1-12

"How happy are the poor in spirit"

Today in the be-attitudes Jesus invites us to find the way to true happiness. His followers are poor in spirit, though clearly not 'poor spirited', neither weak nor mean. They are people who take God and his commandments seriously and put their faith in him rather than in their own resources and achievements, or in visible means of support such as wealth and power. They are people of integrity and justice who avoid the moral compromises which flow so readily from self-centredness. They are people who mourn over the broken condition of the world, and who lament the injustices which cause so much human suffering. Therefore they hunger and thirst and strive to see justice prevail. They are truly compassionate people and makers of peace, people who are prepared to suffer personal loss, even persecution, in the cause of right.

Being poor in spirit has nothing to do with moral weakness, indecision, submissiveness, refusal to assert one's opinions or to assume responsibilities in politics or elsewhere in life. On the contrary, it denotes a willingness to obey God's will, to accept responsibilities from him, to make decisions for one's personal life and for the wider good in accord with the will of God. It is refusal to set oneself as the goal, to make oneself the centre of the world.

 Jesus not only taught these attitudes, he exemplified them in his life and in his dealings with others. They flow from his uncompromising obedience to the will of his Father and his total trust in the Father’s love even to the point of death. He invites his followers to share in that same trust in God which was the source of his strength and to be, like him, witnesses to the values of the Kingdom.