Poverty is the state of being without, often associated with need, hardship and lack of resources across a wide range of circumstances. For some, poverty is a subjective and comparative term; for others, it is moral and evaluative.
Poor in possessions
In the Gospel of Matthew (13:44) Christ suggests that one sells everything in exchange for the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. It was Christ, who has put forth the ideal of perfection, who has commanded Christians to be perfect, who has put forth the ideal of poverty as a starting-point for a certain form of spiritual life.
In Matthew (19:21) our Lord commands the rich man who has claimed he has kept all the commandments: If you will to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor and come follow me.
Poverty is not the goal but the beginning point of monastic and ascetical life.
Poor in spirit
To be poor in spirit is to recognize that one has nothing which he has not received from God. It is to be devoid of all pride. It is not to trust one's own power and spirit. It is to be freed from all reliance on one's own ideas, opinions and desires. It is to be liberated from the "vain imaginations" of one's own heart. Because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened ( Romans 1:21).
This blessed poverty is called spiritual in Saint Matthew's Gospel because it is an attitude of mind and heart, a conviction of the soul. It is the condition of man in total emptiness and openness before God, primarily in relation to the things of the Spirit, that is, to understanding and insight, to will and desire.
- He Ascetic Ideal and the New Testament - Fr Georges Florovsky
- Poverty in Spirit - V. Rev. Thomas Hopko
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