Blessed are the poor

And all in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them. Then he looked up at his disciples and said: ‘Blessed are you who are poor,for yours is the kingdom of God.” – Luke 6:19-20

house-finch.jpgA finch couple has found my bird feeder in the back yard, and they are sitting on it and proclaiming to the world that it is theirs. Silly birds. It is really mine. I bought it and filled it with seed – which I also bought – and hung it for them, wanting their bright colors in my yard for my pleasure.

But, saying that, I wonder. Is the bird feeder really mine? Where did the resources that allowed me to purchase it come from?

Silly me. I inhabit a life every bit as providential as the finches’. And I defend my luck just as strenuously from all comers. “My house,” I warble. “My food. My car. My yard. My bird feeder.”

Jesus says, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.”

The poorest bird comes to the feeder and grabs a few bites while the mightier finches are doing something else. This bird does not stay at the single feeder. Her food comes from a variety of sources: trees and bushes producing nuts and fruit, and other bird feeders on other lawns. There is a way in which the whole world belongs to her. Not identified with a single spot, she has the freedom to dip in anywhere for sustenance.

There is a link between the freedom to find food anywhere and the healing power that Jesus exudes. I don’t think it’s as simple as a cause-effect relationship. But there is something the soul learns when it leaves the rooftop of the bird feeder it has been proclaiming as its very own, something quite unexpected.

What the soul learns is that we are each, always, already a member in the kingdom of God. And the kingdom of God is more binding than blood bonds, more tenacious than the greatest wealth. We cannot escape from it; it embraces us everywhere, even in death. When we realize that, we discover who we really are. And when we discover who we really are? Why, the sky is the limit.

Laurie Gudim is a religious iconographer and liturgical artist, a writer and lay preacher living in Fort Collins, CO. See her work online at Everyday Mysteries.

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