November 9, 2012
On Monday, I mentioned that I had had the opportunity to write some meditations on the latter half of 1 Corinthians 1. Along with 1 Corinthians, I was assigned Matthew’s Beatitudes. Trying to connect the arc from 1 Corinthians to the Sermon on the Mount, I focused on the first Beatitude listed: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” And in this election week, the notion of poverty of spirit seems especially worthy of our attention.
The election is over, and, as I wrote Monday, some people will see the results as a chance to boast in something other than Christ’s cross. Others will see the need to vent their frustrations. (We only have to pay attention to our social media feeds to know this is true.) However, Christians must resist divisive language, cherishing the unity found in the foolishness of the cross more than that of any election result.
This is where poverty of spirit comes in. Matthew’s Beatitude is not referring merely to economic poverty—although the lived witness of Jesus’ life suggests economic poverty is involved—but, rather, poverty of spirit requires Jesus’ disciples to relinquish any presumption to power, any ability to control outcomes. The important thing is not to get “our guy” in the White House. (We might here again ask, “Who’s the ‘we’ in that ‘our'”?) The important thing is working toward the kingdom of heaven, where all are reconciled. The cross of Christ finished the work of reconciliation, and our proleptic practices as people of the cross must incarnate that reconciling work of Jesus. Eschatologically, as Andrew Peterson sings, the end is “oceans and oceans of love and love again.” We must therefore live into the reality of that love. Our call is not to “win” the right “battles;” our call is to have a comprehensive “poverty of spirit,” loving others as God as loved us.
Craig D. Katzenmiller is the Social Media Editor at TokensShow.com and is currently pursuing a PhD in Liturgical Theology and Ethics at the Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg.