Msgr. Joseph Corley

The following column appeared in the June 30, 2019 bulletin of Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Darby, at which Msgr. Joseph Corley was pastor until his death on June 29 after a short illness.

CatholicPhilly.com offers this final reflection by Msgr. Corley, which he wrote for this year’s celebration of the July 4 holiday.

The Gospel of Matthew includes the internationally known and respected “Sermon on the Mount” (Mt 5:1-12). Let’s focus our attention on the first beatitude: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God.”

First, keep in mind the word “blessed” can be interpreted as “happy.”

Second, when Jesus refers to the “poor in spirit,” he is talking about anyone, rich or poor, who is aware of his or her dependence upon God.

Third, the statement “theirs is the kingdom of God” means those who acknowledge their dependence upon God, and do God’s will, have already allowed God to rule their hearts. They give glory to God, who is in them.

How does the beatitude apply to us?

Matthew wrote the Beatitudes to inspire disciples like us. The evangelist wanted to turn readers’ attention to the most fundamental virtue of discipleship — humility, which is another word for being poor in spirit. The Sermon on the Mount assures the humble of God’s presence and favor in their struggles.

We live in a culture that admires independence and individualism. The Gospels, however, praise spiritual dependence and community life. The Beatitudes are a modern-day Christian’s “Declaration of Dependence” upon God.

Pray for the virtue of humility, and be happy knowing that, like Jesus, you are poor in spirit.

Happy Fourth of July weekend! God bless you, and God bless America.