Friday, September 04, 2009

Blessed Are The Poor [Leo the Great]

Thus says the LORD: See! I will restore the tents of Jacob, his dwellings I will pity; City shall be rebuilt upon hill, and palace restored as it was. From them will resound songs of praise, the laughter of happy men. I will make them not few, but many; they will not be tiny, for I will glorify them. His sons shall be as of old, his assembly before me shall stand firm; I will punish all his oppressors. His leader shall be one of his own, and his rulers shall come from his kin. When I summon him, he shall approach me; how else should one take the deadly risk of approaching me? says the LORD.



You shall be my people, and I will be your God. See, the storm of the LORD! His wrath breaks forth In a whirling storm that bursts upon the heads of the wicked. The anger of the LORD will not abate until he has done and fulfilled what he has determined in his heart. When the time comes, you will fully understand. At that time, says the LORD, I will be the God of all the tribes of Israel, and they shall be my people.

Thus says the LORD: The people that escaped the sword have found favor in the desert. As Israel comes forward to be given his rest, the LORD appears to him from afar: With age-old love I have loved you; so I have kept my mercy toward you. Again I will restore you, and you shall be rebuilt, O virgin Israel; Carrying your festive tambourines, you shall go forth dancing with the merrymakers. Again you shall plant vineyards on the mountains of Samaria; those who plant them shall enjoy the fruits. Yes, a day will come when the watchmen will call out on Mount Ephraim: "Rise up, let us go to Zion, to the LORD, our God."

For thus says the LORD: Shout with joy for Jacob, exult at the head of the nations; proclaim your praise and say: The LORD has delivered his people, the remnant of Israel. Behold, I will bring them back from the land of the north; I will gather them from the ends of the world, with the blind and the lame in their midst, The mothers and those with child; they shall return as an immense throng. They departed in tears, but I will console them and guide them; I will lead them to brooks of water, on a level road, so that none shall stumble. For I am a father to Israel, Ephraim is my first-born. - Jeremiah 30:18-31:9

Blessed are the poor in spirit



There is no doubt that the poor find it easier than the rich to receive the blessing of humility; for gentleness goes with poverty just as pride more commonly goes with riches. Nevertheless, very many rich people find that their wealth does not swell them up with pride: rather, they do good and benevolent things with it. For these people the greatest treasure is what they spend in relieving the distress and hardship of others.

In the virtue of humility men of every kind and every standing meet together, because though they differ in their means they share a common purpose. Their inequality of wealth makes no difference if they are equal in spiritual blessings.

What kind of poverty, then, is blessed? The kind that is not in love with earthly things and does not seek worldly riches: the kind that longs to be filled with the blessings of heaven.

After our Lord himself, the Apostles have given us the best example of this greatness of heart in poverty. When their Master called, they instantly left behind all that they possessed, and from catching fish they turned swiftly to fishing for men. Their example inspired many to emulate their faith and so become like them: it was at this time that these first sons of the Church were of one heart and there was one spirit among believers. With all their possessions stripped away they received the riches of eternal blessings, and through the Apostles’ preaching they rejoiced at having nothing that the world could give and possessing all things with Christ.

So it was that when the blessed apostle Peter was going up into the Temple and the cripple begged him for alms, he replied I have neither silver nor gold, but I will give you what I have: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, walk! What could be higher than this lowliness? What could be richer than this poverty? He cannot give the support of money but he can give the gift of a restored nature. From the womb his mother brought him forth a cripple; by a word Peter raises him up to health. He did not give the image of Caesar stamped on a coin but he restored the image of Christ in the man himself.

The man who was given the power to walk was not the only one to receive help from this rich treasure. From the same act of miraculous healing Five thousand men received the gift of faith in the Apostle’s teaching. The poor man who could give nothing of what he was asked for restored one lame man to his feet but also healed the hearts of thousands: he found them lame and brought them to be lithe and agile in Christ.



St Leo the Great, Sermon on the Beatitudes;
cf. Liturgy of the Hours, Office of Readings
Friday of the 22nd Week of Ordinary Time

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