As part of my homily preparation, I sometimes look at how the Saints and Fathers have meditated on our Scripture passages. (Then of course I do plenty of praying with the Scriptures, and I use the modern tools of biblical study.) Because the Saints are holy, and the text of Scripture is holy, you can expect a likeness that results in some bright wisdom from the Saints when they encounter Scripture. Here is some wisdom from some Saints who commented on Matthew 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit”, the first line from last Sunday’s Gospel at Mass:
St. Isidore: “He is truly blessed who has all things good he desires, and who desires nothing of evil.”
St. Bernard spoke about what an affront it is for Christians to seek happiness in riches, after Christ showed us happiness in poverty. He added: “Do not love goods which are a burden when owned, which defile when loved, and which torment when lost.”
St. Simeon the Stylite preached to crowds of wealthy people: Despise what is of the earth, love and embrace what is of heaven, which alone can satisfy you.
St. Gregory of Nyssa: “Do you wish to know who is poor in spirit? It is he who exchanges corporeal opulence for the riches of the soul, who is poor for the sake of the spirit, who has thrown off earthly riches like a heavy load, so as to be borne aloft through the air in a cloud, as the Apostle says, and to go through the heavens, at one with God. What a heavy thing gold is, and how burdensome everything that is desired for the sake of riches; but what a light thing is virtue and the desire for what is sublime. If, then, it behooves us to advance to the things above, let us be poor and needy in the things which drag us down, that we may become conversant with things supernal.”
St. Ambrose: “It is good for you to become poor in spirit, for humility of the spirit brings the riches of virtues.”
St. Leo: “What is more sublime than this humility, what is more wealthy than this poverty?”
St. Bernard: “Consider how prudently Wisdom has ordained, appointing the first remedy against the first sin, as though she said plainly, ‘Will you obtain heaven which the proud angel lost, he who trusted in his strength and in the multitude of his riches? Embrace the lowliness of poverty, and it shall be yours’.”
St. Francis de Sales: “The poor, or beggars in spirit are those who beg—i.e., who have an insatiable hunger and thirst for the Spirit—that is, for increase of love and zeal for God, that He may ever grow and burn in them with constant increase.”
Have a blessed week!
In cordibus Iesu et Mariae,