“Blessed are the poor.” – Luke
“Blessed are the poor in spirit.” – Matthew
In my own life, I have recognized that my reading of Luke has varied depending on life circumstances.
When I have been poor, I have found extreme comfort in seeing “poor” without qualification — a reminder that God remembers me in my physical poverty. And when my economic condition has been better, my reading moves towards Matthew’s “poor in spirit,” meaning that I focus more on spiritual poverty. I mention that because as we read Luke (whether in poverty or affluence), we need to be aware that our economic “lens” may influence our reading of the text.
So in the times of life when you have abundance, remember that others, such as those in impoverished countries, are reading Luke differently than you. That’s not to say that their exegesis is better or worse. It’s a reminder to always see the rawness of Luke’s gospel — keeping in mind that poverty is not merely about a lack of means, but a lack of well-being.
In other words, poverty affects people holistically, since poverty often results from economic enslavement to a person or a system. So at the end of the day, poverty is not so much about possessions, but powerlessness. It is easy to lose hope when overwhelmed with poverty, but into that hopelessness, Luke speaks a powerful word: “Blessed are the poor.”