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Dec 05, 2016 45 0 Richard Maffeo
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The Poor in Spirit

While Nancy waited in the doctor’s office for her appointment time, she noticed an elderly woman across from her. Mid-seventies, Nancy guessed. Maybe five feet tall. She looked well-put together in her nicely tailored pink pant suit—until she stood up and shuffled behind her walker to the receptionist. It was then Nancy noticed the woman’s pant legs were so long that she had rolled up about a foot of material to keep it from dragging on the ground. Nancy wondered if she had no one to hem them for her, or to take her to a seamstress.

As she told me this story, lyrics of an old Beatle’s song passed through my thoughts:

Eleanor Rigby picks up the rice in the church 

where a wedding has been
Lives in a dream
Waits at the window, wearing the face 

that she keeps in a jar by the door
Who is it for?

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

Father McKenzie writing the words of a sermon

that no one will hear
No one comes near
Look at him working, darning his socks in the night 

when there’s nobody there
What does he care?

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

When Nancy finished talking I sat in silence for a few moments, pondering the well-put together woman with the rolled up cuffs. What can the Gospel—the Good News of Jesus—what can it mean for all the lonely people? What can it speak to those who do not speak because they have learned no one cares to hear what they have to say? What message can the Good News have for those who will not look others in the eyes because they know by experience their place is always beneath and behind and in a corner?

Does God really have Good News for the Father Mckenzies and the Eleanor Rigbys and for those who do not have someone who cares enough to hem their pants?

Yes! Of course He does. That is why Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”

He was talking to the discouraged ones, the desolate, the rejected, the lonely, and the forgotten. He was talking to the invisible ones in every employee break room, in every church, in every classroom, in every doctor’s office, and in every family.

Their God—called “Immanuel, God with us”— aches for their sadness. He listens intently to every word whispered by their heart. He catches their every tear in His bottle. He cups their chin in His hands and invites them to look into His eyes.

The Good News of the Gospel is this: Though no one else knows them, God-With-Us knows them. His gaze follows those who are poor in spirit, each Eleanor Rigby, Father McKenzie, and each old woman with rolled-up cuffs. Each is immeasurably important to Him, so important that He says it again and again, “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy burdened.”

Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.


© RICHARD MAFFEO was born into a Jewish home. Twenty-two years later, he discovered Jesus to be his Messiah. During the next thirty-three years, he and his wife, Nancy, worshipped in evangelical Protestant churches where he learned what it means to lean on Jesus and to listen for His voice. Maffeo earned his baccalaureate and seminary degrees from Assemblies of God schools. Then, in 2005, after discerning Catholic teaching in the light of the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit led him into the Catholic Church. He continues to mature in his passion for Christ, the Sacraments, prayer, and Scripture. Maffeo is a Fourth Degree Knight, has written three books, authors a blog (www.TheContemplativeCatholicConvert.blogspot.com), and serves Christ in his parish, St. Benedict’s Catholic Church in Duluth, Georgia.

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