Happy are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

 

our little chapel

It’s the start of the traditional novena masses leading to the celebration of the birth of the Son of God. I decided to structure my reflections on the Beatitudes, the laws of love, in addition to the theme of the mass. There are eight of them so I figured I even have one day off.

 

Happy are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. This is the first beatitude and one that I always had trouble understanding because of the phrase poor in spirit.

When I was in high school I once asked my teacher in my Christian Living subject why God is giving the kingdom of heaven to those people who lost their spirit, to the unhappy people. I got a C, for losing the translation. Apparently, someone is not poor because he/she lost something or lack something.

A person is poor because he/she is in need. For example, a person is poor in materials things if he needs to have those material things. If he doesn’t need those things then he cannot be poor material-wise. So, a person who is poor in spirit is the person who is in need of the Spirit, of God and the life He offers. The contrapositive form of this statement is equally true: He who does not need God cannot be poor in spirit. Then who can be welcomed in the kingdom of heaven? He who desperately need God, who depends on God, who can’t live without God. To be poor in spirit is the condition we must meet to enter the kingdom of God.

Our need controls us, calls the shot for us. Who and what would you rather have to call the shot for you?

Prayer

Father, in the midst of all the things I possess, help me to be poor in spirit by keeping my life open to You, by putting my trust totally in You, and by holding you always as the most precious element in my life.

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Simplifying one’s life

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hibiscus flowerTo simplify means to make less complex or complicated. Hence to simplify one’s life is to make it less complicated and perhaps easier to live. How do we do this?  Let’s take a lesson from mathematics. In mathematics to simplify an algebraic expression is to perform the indicated operation. For example, in 9(2x+1)/3 – x, the indicated operations are division, multiplication, addition, and subtraction. The simplifying process is only complete when the expression is in its most basic form.  I believe that in math and in life, the simplifying process is done by going through the same operation of subtraction, addition, division and multiplication.

To simplify one’s life does not only involve subtraction or removing unnecessary baggage, disordered attachments, and excesses. This is only part of the process. To simplify one’s life also involve addition – increasing our knowledge about ourselves, opening our hearts and minds to life-giving relationships, increasing the depth of our intimacy with God, etc.

To simplify one’s life also involves division and multiplication. We should learn to celebrate life. Our joys, our hopes, our faith have to multiply so that they will touch the lives of as many people as possible.  However this can only happen if we are willing to share ourselves, continually allow ourselves to be broken for others like Jesus does in the Eucharist.

Yes, the simplifying process is an on-going process. It does not only happen during the lenten season of the Church or of our lives but also during Advent, Christmas, Easter, and even in Ordinary time.