"Blessed are the poor in Spirit."

by Gilles Côté


    Saint Thérèse of Lisieux once said or wrote, "If I have nothing to give to God, I will give him that nothing..."
          She was deeply grounded in the spirit of the beatitudes: blessed are the poor; blessed are those who have nothing. Her "littleness" was for her not a cause for lament, but an opportunity to give herself more fully to God.
          It is a normal reaction for us to feel like shying away from God when we glimpse, even faintly, something of God's holiness and, at the same time, how far from that holiness we ourselves are. The story of the fall of Adam and Eve describes them as hiding from God after disobeying Him. Peter tells Jesus: "Get away from me Lord, because I am a sinful man."
          In the Scriptures, however, we hear God constantly inviting us to come to him, even if we are sinful, even if we have nothing to offer.

          Without money and without cost... It is easy to feel as if we need to buy our way into a relationship with God. If I am good.… if I pray... if I do this... if I avoid doing that. In the world, we need to prove ourselves, we need to have something to bargain with, we need to be worth something, if we wish to be considered a somebody.

"Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labour on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare."                      In Isaiah 55: 1-2

          God does things differently. He says: You have nothing to give me? Good! Come anyway. What you lack I will give you. You are weak? Good! Come, I will give you strength. You know you are a sinner? Good! Come, I will give you a new heart. You have nothing? Good! Come, I will fill you with treasures beyond your wildest dreams. You are a nobody? Good! Come, I will make you my daughter, my son - and then you will know who you are and how precious you are.

          Saint Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians, reveals to us that he once prayed to God to be rid of what he called "a thorn in his side" - we don't know what this might have been, but the only reply he got from God was:

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."            2 Cor 12: 9

          Paul's reaction was:

" Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."
2 Cor 12: 9

          This may sound too easy. It seems I have nothing to do. God does everything. In a way that is true. But I also need to let God be God in my life. The problem is that I find that very difficult to do.
          A glass full of pennies leaves no space for anything else. If I am thirsty and want to drink I will have to empty the glass first to make space for the water that can parch my thirst. If, because I feel a void inside of me, I fill my life with work, or busyness, or power, or alcohol, or pleasure, or business, or distraction, or... Instead of the pennies in a glass, visualize anything that people use to attempt to camouflage the hurt, the emptiness, the loneliness, the fear, and the restlessness that they feel.

Get out of the way and let God be God in you.

Meister Eckhart


          It is only when I accept to let go of my security blankets that I am open to let God fill me. What God wants to give me costs absolutely nothing, but it is not cheap. It requires that I be willing to empty myself of anything that might prevent me from receiving what God has to give me. God only fills me in as much as I have space in my life to receive what he has to give.

"The kingdom of God is theirs."

          If I am open to God, then God can work in me, to transform me into the image of his son Jesus. God's reign, God's powerful action is unleashed in my life to mould me into the masterpiece that I am supposed to become.

          That is poverty of spirit.

©Gilles Côté, 2001