(Vatican News) At the Angelus on Sunday, Pope Francis reflects on the first Beatitude and says that being “poor in spirit” requires us to welcome everything as God’s gift and strive against society’s throwaway mentality.
Pope Francis prayed the traditional Marian prayer of the Angelus on Sunday, and reflected on the first and fundamental Beatitude: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:1-12).
The “poor in spirit”, he noted, are those who recognize that they cannot rely on themselves or remain self-sufficient.
“They live as ‘beggars before God’. They feel their need for Him and recognize the good that comes from Him as a gift, as a grace.”
Treasuring every one of God’s gifts
Pope Francis noted that the poor in spirit also “treasure what they receive” and therefore know that “no gift should go to waste”.
He then reflected at length on the actuality of this teaching of Jesus, since it runs up against much of our consumerist society that fails to appreciate the value of people and things.
“After the multiplication of the loaves and the fish, [Jesus] asks that the leftover food be gathered so that nothing would be wasted,” the Pope offered by way of example.
He offered Christians three challenges to combat the throwaway culture that predominates the world, especially in affluent societies.
Gift that we are
Pope Francis first challenged people “not to waste the gift that we are.”
He said each person is a good, independent of the gifts we have, since “every man or woman is rich not only in talents but in dignity.”
“Jesus reminds us that we are blessed not for what we have, but for who we are. Authentic poverty, therefore, is when a person lets go and throws him or herself away, wasting him or herself.”
Gifts that we have
The Pope then challenged us “not to waste the gifts that we have.”
He lamented that over a third of the world’s food production goes to waste, even as many people die of hunger.
“Goods should be taken care of and shared in such a way that no one lacks what is necessary,” he said. “Rather than waste what we have, let us disseminate an ecology of justice and charity!”
Gifts of people
Pope Francis offered the third challenge “not to waste people.”
He said the throwaway culture uses people only so long as they are useful, after which the person is only a bother to society.
Those most affected by this selfish mindset are “unborn children, the elderly, the needy, and the disadvantaged.”
“People are never to be thrown out, never! Every person is a sacred and unique gift, no matter what their age or condition is. Let us always respect and promote life!”
Examination of conscience
The Pope wrapped up his Angelus address with a series of questions we can ask ourselves to assess how we live our poverty of spirit.
“Do I know how to make room for God? Do I believe that he is my good, my true and great wealth? Do I believe that he loves me, or do I throw myself away in sadness, forgetting that I am a gift? And then – Am I careful not to waste? Am I responsible about how I use things, goods? Am I willing to share things with others? Lastly, Do I consider the weakest as precious gifts whom God asks me to care for? Do I remember the poor, those who are deprived of what is necessary?”