Continuing Formation: “The Beatitudes”
For the next few months, we will be concentrating on the Beatitudes and how they apply to the Franciscan way of life. The eight beatitudes from the Gospel of Matthew 5: 3-10 as quoted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church are:
Blessed are the
poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
This month, as we celebrate the Feast of St. Clare, we will concentrate on the first and third Beatitudes listed here—“Blessed are the poor in spirit” and “Blessed are the meek”.
The word poor seems to represent an Aramaic `ányâ (Hebr. `anî), bent down, afflicted, miserable, poor; while meek is rather a synonym from the same root, `ánwan (Hebr. `ánaw), bending oneself down, humble, meek, gentle. Some scholars would attach to the former word also the sense of humility; others think of "beggars before God" humbly acknowledging their need of Divine help. But the opposition of "rich" (Luke, vi, 24) points especially to the common and obvious meaning, which, however, ought not to be confined to economical need and distress, but may comprehend the whole of the painful condition of the poor: their low estate, their social dependence, their defenseless exposure to injustice from the rich and the mighty. Besides the Lord's blessing, the promise of the heavenly kingdom is not bestowed on the actual external condition of such poverty. The blessed ones are the poor "in spirit", who by their free will are ready to bear for God's sake this painful and humble condition, even though at present they be actually rich and happy; while on the other hand, the really poor man may fall short of this poverty "in spirit".
Inasmuch as poverty is a state of humble subjection, the "poor in spirit", come near to the "meek". The anawim, they who humbly and meekly bend themselves down before God and man, shall "inherit the land" and posses their inheritance in peace. This is a phrase taken from Ps. xxxvi (Hebr., xxxvii), 11, where it refers to the Promised Land of Israel, but here in the words of Christ, it is of course but a symbol of the Kingdom of Heaven, the spiritual realm of the Messiah. Not a few interpreters, however, understand "the earth". But they overlook the original meaning of Ps. xxxvi, 11, and unless, by a far-fetched expedient, they take the earth also to be a symbol of the Messianic kingdom, it will be hard to explain the possession of the earth in a satisfactory way.
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02371a.htm Taken from the Catholic Encyclopedia