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~ Poverty of Spirit ~

        The holy mountain of shekinah glory touches the ever-radiant Sun, invisibly rooted in the skin of the earth, hidden in the deep, dark waters.

        Behold the burial shroud of the Son, basking in the glory on the mountain. The rising Sun kisses the shroud, ascending into the heavens, the brilliant Light penetrating the dark waters. See how the blood of the shroud oozes into the waters. Sin is red as scarlet, mingled with the sacred blood, nourishing the mountain and sea.

        Watch how the shroud turns dazzling white, more brilliant than sun lit snow. It wraps around us on the mountain, as a royal robe.

        We are poor in spirit, poor in words, and can only prostrate on the Rock, in silent awe and worship, clothed only in the burial shroud, purified in His Holy Light. We are transformed into a royal priesthood.

        The scarlet sins float away with the sacred blood, sinking into the abyss of the deep waters. We were the salt of the earth that could be tasted in the seas.

        The earth needs no salt anymore. The seas are clean and fresh, purified by the blood of the Son, and the blood of His saints. Their blood is His. All is His. We are gloriously poor.

        He clothed the first people with skins of creatures. We are clothed with His burial shroud. Now a shroud of pure Light. We are poor because we need nothing, want nothing. We own nothing. What resplendent poverty! This is heaven.

        We drink deeply of the pure water of the holy mountain. The water is alive, and so are we. We know thirst and hunger no more. We embrace this wondrous, holy poverty. What treasure! Blessed are those who are poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God!

        It's been said the more you know the more you don't know. That, indeed, has been the experience of many of us. Knowing very little, we begin a study of an art, skill, or body of knowledge. In a few years we begin to feel good about how much we now know. As we learn more, we arrive at the same point we were when we knew very little. We are seized with the humbling reality that there is so much more to learn and we really do know very little. That understanding becomes wisdom, a gift of the poverty of knowledge more valuable and to be treasured than all the accumulated knowledge. "When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom" (Proverbs 11:2, NIV). I'm sure you will agree that "Fools are put in many high positions" (Ecclesiastes 10:6a, NIV).

        An expert who maintains a poverty of knowledge will be driven in humility to learn more, and will use the knowledge with wisdom. One who doesn't will rest in self- satisfaction and become a knowledgeable fool. Those experts are dangerous and destructive.

        The ignorant, however, are not closer to God than the well educated. But blessed are both who espouse a poverty of knowledge, for the kingdom of knowledge in theirs. They stay steadfast on their pilgrimage, driven by hunger and thirst. "Blessed are those who thirst…"

         We are all spiritually poor, beggars for grace and redemption. Those who proclaim spiritual wealth are not known for pleading for God's mercy, for doing penitential acts, for weeping in sack-cloth and ashes, for confessing a profound need for the Presence of God. They portray spiritual pride, aloofness, and a disconnection with those dear to the heart of Christ, the oppressed, afflicted, imprisoned, despised and despairing. Like the Pharisees, they are not poor in spirit. Their only blessing will be the accolades of people and even the admiration of many church congregations for their accomplishments and good Christian "testimony."

        The joy of the kingdom of heaven begins with a contrite heart. "Contrite" has Latin roots meaning "bruised." Hard hearts don't bruise. They may soften over time and under prayer. They can be cracked quickly under pressure or a hit of disaster or pain, but such a heart can still be hard, though broken. That is not a contrite heart. An easily bruised heart will suffer what others suffer, compassionately ("with the same passion"). But it won't be destroyed because it suffers in and with Christ. His heart was also "wounded for our transgressions" but not broken; He was "bruised for our iniquities" but not destroyed. A contrite heart is the heart of Christ. Such a heart knows it is lowly, helpless, fragile and very much in need of the blood of Christ to transform it into His own.

        Such a heart is poor in spirit and knows it. This heart then yearns for grace and His Holy Spirit. As it surrenders to the Spirit, it realizes there is more surrendering beyond that. The more it surrenders the more unsurrendered it realizes it is. The more it is used for the Spirit's purpose, the more it sees other purposes to be consumed by. The more of the infinite kingdom it comes to know and experience, the more it knows what it has yet to know and experience.

        This heart is poor in spirit  It embraces that poverty because the love and powers of the kingdom embraces it and is infinitely generous and gracious to nourish that heart. "Theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

John S. Hilkevich, Ph.D.
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Weekly Reflections © May 18, 2002

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