"The poor in spirit is the Christian who does not rely on himself, on his material wealth, the one who does not insist on his own opinions, but listens with respect and willingly defers to the decisions of others,” said Pope Francis on the Sunday in which the Gospel proposes the discourse of the Beatitudes.
In focusing on the meaning of the beatitude of the poor in spirit,
the pontiff said that "if in our communities there were more poor in
spirit, there would be fewer divisions, conflicts and controversies."
Speaking before some 30,000 people in St Peter's Square for the
Angelus, the pope said that "the liturgy of this Sunday makes us
meditate on the Beatitudes (cf. Mt 5:1-12a), which open the
great sermon 'on the mount', the 'magna carta' of the New Testament.
Jesus manifests God’s will to lead people to happiness.
“This message was already present in the preaching of the prophets:
God is close to the poor and oppressed, and frees them from those who
mistreat them. But in his preaching Jesus follows a particular path. He
starts with the word ‘blessed’, i.e. happy, continues with the indication of the condition to be so, and concludes by making a promise.
“The reason for beatitude, i.e. happiness, is not in the required
condition – for example ‘poor in spirit’, ‘afflicted’, ‘hunger for
justice’, ‘persecuted’ . . . – but in the next promise, to be accepted
with faith as God’s gift. It starts with the condition of distress
before opening up to God’s gift, and entering the new world, the
‘kingdom’ announced by Jesus. This is not an automatic mechanism, but a
journey of life in the wake of the Lord, so that the reality of hardship
and affliction is seen from a new perspective and tested according to
the conversion that takes place. One is not blessed unless one is converted, able to enjoy and appreciate God’s gifts."
"I focus on the first beatitude: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’
(v. 3). The poor in spirit is the one who has taken on the feelings and
attitudes of those poor people who in their condition do not rebel, but
know how to be humble, obedient, available to God's grace. The
happiness of the poor in spirit has two dimensions: towards goods and God.
With respect to material goods, this poverty in spirit is sobriety: not
necessarily surrender, but the ability to taste what is essential,
sharing; the ability to renew every day the wonder for the goodness of
things without added weight in the opacity of voracious consumption: the
more I have, the more I want. This is voracious consumption and this
kills the soul. With respect to God it is praise and recognition that
the world is a blessing and that the Father’s creative love is its
origin. But it is also openness to Him, He is the Lord, not me; it is
docility to his lordship, who wanted the world for all men in their
condition of smallness and limitation."
"The poor in spirit is the Christian who does not rely on himself, on
his material wealth, the one who does not insist on his own opinions,
but listens with respect and willingly defers to the decisions of
others. If in our communities there were more poor in spirit, there
would be fewer divisions, disagreements and controversies! Humility,
like charity, it is an essential virtue for living together in Christian
“The poor, in this evangelical sense, appear as those who keep alive
the goal of the Kingdom of Heaven, showing a glimpse that it is
anticipated in embryo in the fraternal community, which privileges
sharing over ownership. I would like to emphasise this, privileging
communion over possession. May the Virgin Mary, model and first fruit of
the poor in spirit because she was totally docile to the Lord’s will,
help us abandon ourselves to God, rich in mercy, so as to fill us with
his gifts, especially the abundance of his forgiveness."
As in previous years, two youths from Azione Cattolica (Catholic
Action) Association representing Roman parishes and Catholic schools,
appeared with the pope for the recitation of the Marian prayer. The two
read a message in favour of peace bringing to a close the 'Caravan of
Peace', whose slogan was ‘Surrounded by Peace’. This was followed by the
release of coloured balloons in the square.
The Pope concluded by noting that today is World Leprosy Day. "This
disease, although declining, is still among the most feared, and affects
the poorest and the most marginalised. It is important to fight this
disease, but also the discrimination that it engenders. I encourage all
those engaged in assistance and social rehabilitation of people affected
by leprosy, to whom we assure our prayer.”