Saint Ambrose writes: “Saint Matthew fully reveals and says, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit’ for a man poor in spirit is not puffed up, is not exalted in the mind of his own flesh.” [Ib., Bk. V, § 53.] The Greek word used here in the Beatitudes is (makavrio~) an adjective that means happy, “Happy (Blessed) are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of the heavens.” [Mt. 5:3]
The prophet Isaiah records it this way: “Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!” (Is.5.21) Our fake wisdom or ego can be used against us to blind us of our many faults. If we allow these faults to take root they will stunt the growth of our good seed, the seed that bears salvific fruit. Listen to the words from St. Hesychios the Priest: “Just as it is impossible to fight battles without weapons, or to swim a great sea with clothes on, or to live without breathing, so without humility and the constant prayer to Christ it is impossible to master the art of inward spiritual warfare or to set about it and pursue it skillfully.”
Fr. Stephen Freeman writes: “The ego never understands. It judges, compares, even “tries an idea on,” but never understands. Understanding is a function of the heart. The ego is riddled with anxiety (its existence is often maintained by constant anxiety). Cares and deceit will rob it of any true planting in the word. In truth, there is no soil in the ego. The heart is the place where we have “root” in ourselves. It is the seat of understanding. There, and there alone, the seed bears fruit.”
The heart is where happiness matures as we separate ourselves from worldly distractions and cares. My granddad Rufus when he was young would hitch up his work horse, Dan, and put blinders or blinkers on the horse’s eyes so he could not be distracted by what was happening beside or behind him. With the sounds of the daily work and the activity of wildlife springing to life around the farm, Dan, the work horse only looked ahead, undistracted!
We can also find a type of spiritual blinkers or blinders as we look inward into our soil that is in constant need of weeding. We continually say the “Jesus Prayer” as we go about our day; this is our most skilful weapon as we plant Christ in the middle of our bombardment of hourly thoughts and distractions. We look to the teachings of Christ as St. Ignatius reminds us: “The Lord remained silent before Pilate and Herod; He made no attempt to justify Himself. You must imitate His holy and wise silence when you see that your enemies accuse you, with every intention of certain conviction.” St. Ignatius Brianchaninov, (The Cup of Christ)
And just as Granddad needed Dan to till the soil, pull the fertilizer wagon and help plant and harvest the bountiful harvest from the rich soil, we also must work, fertilize, and plant the teachings of Christ deep into the fertile soil of our hearts and not allow our ego and the deafening noise of the world in which we live to prevent us from finding and anchoring our future in the joyful happiness only found in the field of salvation, which is in Jesus Christ.
And He lifted up His eyes to His disciples, and began to say: “Happy are the poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. “Happy are ye who hunger now, for ye shall be filled. Happy are ye who weep now, for ye shall laugh. “Happy are ye whenever men hate you, and whenever they separate you, and reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man. [Lk. 6:20-22] Happy! Happy! Happy!
Fr. Gabriel Weller 7-4-2021