Stop & Ponder 

Have you ever been listening to a teaching or homily or reading a spiritual book and find yourself “grabbed” by a particular phrase or even a line. Yet, you are pulled away by the next phrase or line and there’s no time to dig deeper into the thought that grabbed you. I can feel the pressure to keep going with the talk as the author leads the way…. “hurry up Dave or you’re going to miss the point…. speed it up or you won’t ever finish the book or complete your prayer time.” Gee, what’s the point? Is this a college class where I need to master the material so I can pass a test? 

One of the best things I fell into years ago was memorizing scripture. Judy and I memorized Hebrews Chapter 12. Because of that, I could call it to mind frequently and I was able to ponder it and allow it to influence my thinking. I had to stay with it and it really helped me. Oh by the way, don’t be too impressed as I didn’t keep up the discipline for very long.

The other day I heard the  Beatitudes being read  from the sermon on the mount.(Mt. 5:3-11) I was struck by the first one, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. For once I decided to stay there and not rush to ponder all of them at once. Certainly each of the beatitudes could be read and studied and meditated on for a lifetime, and still there would be more, but I decided to just ponder the first one for a bit. 

What does it mean to be “poor in spirit”? Some say it’s “where we recognize our own spiritual poverty, our need for God.” Sometimes “meekness” is considered a similar word. It says that Moses was the “meekest of men”. (Num.12:3)…. i.e. he let God defend him. In other words, when we come to God, we must realize our own spiritual emptiness and poverty. We must not be self-satisfied or proud in our hearts, thinking we don’t really need God. 

When we have this attitude “the kingdom of heaven” is at hand. It’s there that the king reigns.. the things of God are in their right place…. the fruits of the spirit are prevalent- love, peace joy, patience, kindness, generosity, gentleness, self-control. It’s heaven…. even on earth and later fully in eternity. 

So let’s take time to stop and ponder this beatitude, this blessing before racing off to the next one. If we cultivate being poor in spirit, knowing our need for God, allowing God to defend us and take care of us, then the kingdom of heaven will envelop us more and more. 

Let’s give it try. Holy Spirit teach us more and more be “poor in spirit”. Show us, help us, and then let us see the fruits of the Holy Spirit overtake us. That would be very good news.

P.S. In case you want to ponder a different Beatitude, here is a list of all nine. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.  (Mt. 5:3-11)

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