Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Favor and Joy to the Marginal (Matthew 5:3)

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 5:3).

Blessed has two meanings. It means being highly favored by God and truly joyful. Jesus tells us we are both when he speaks these words to us today and frees us to be poor in spirit.

The expression, poor in spirit, is given the most diverse interpretations. One way to discern its meaning is by comparing this blessing in Matthew with its parallel in Luke. In Luke, Jesus says, “Blessed are you poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God” (Luke 6:20). The poor would be the marginal. In terms of the six false Olympian gods, the poor would include those lacking in political, military, technological, sexual, monetary, and consumer advantages.

In Luke, Jesus speaks to the poor: to those marginal in relation to the gods of his day and ours. In Matthew, Jesus raises the bar. He speaks not only to those who happen to find themselves marginal, but of those who do not seek to become central. In other words, the poor are the marginal; the poor in spirit, those who do not define the meaning of life in terms of being advantaged politically, monetarily, or otherwise.

Jesus tells us that the marginal in spirit are highly favored and truly joyful because ours is the Kingdom of Heaven. In other words, to them Jesus gives his life-transforming words and the quickening of his Holy Spirit: the presence of God the Kingdom of Light here on earth for our good and his glory.

Let us compare how we might live as Olympians, conventional Christians, and tufluvian witnesses to Jesus Christ with this blessing in mind in terms of politics.

As Olympians, we would devote ourselves to Jupiter, false god of politics. Hence we would be zealous nationalists and political partisans and eager to concentrate power in the hands of the executive. The meaning of our life would be defined in terms of political power and we would be justified by Jupiter in using any means necessary to gain it. The idea of being poor in spirit or, in this case, politically marginal would be ridiculous. We would care less about the presence of any invisible Kingdom of Christ and focus exclusively on embodying Jupiter’s politics of power here on Earth. 

As conventional Christians, blending Olympianity with Christianity, we would remain zealous nationalists and political partisans but would justify gaining political power using biblical words. When we gained it, we would get it through Jupiter and his methods but attribute our success to Jesus. When we lost it, we would see our defeat as a sign of the End Times and regard ourselves as martyrs. We would confuse the Kingdom of Heaven with our own nationalistic or political agenda and think ourselves quite poor in spirit when wanted nothing else for ourselves or others.  Even when not actively involved in gaining political power, supposedly to do more good, we would happily speak of those with different political opinions, even if they were Christians, as incarnations of evil.

As tufluvian Christians, we would be freed by Jesus, through these words, from the power of Jupiter and a lust for political power over others through him. This would not mean we simply ignored politics. We would happily question the falsehoods, control, violence, and destruction perpetrated by wielders of political power of all political parties and governments. We would also be willing to listen sympathetically to persons of every political persuasion, acknowledging any of their affirmations of truth, goodness, and beauty while setting all else gently to one side. But we would not define life’s meaning or society’s well-being in terms of politics nor be downcast by our unavoidably marginal political status.

Copyright © 2022 by Steven Farsaci.
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