The Blessed Poor

The other day I made a visit to the new Boston public library. It has recently been renovated, really transformed into an amazing place. So as I was walking, I saw a sign for a new map room. I thought, “I like maps,” and I went in. There were old maps, new maps, and even new maps made to look like old maps.

As I passed around the back end of the exhibit, I came across a map of the city of Boston, and on the map they had placed a marker wherever there was a supermarket. What caught my attention was that the supermarkets seemed to be more centered around the more wealthy areas. Well, that makes sense if making money is your first priority. That’s what businesses do, they chase the people and the organizations that have more money.

Then, on another map nearby, there was the same city of Boston. But instead of the supermarkets being marked out, there were community gardens marked out. It was like the complete inverse of the supermarkets: these were centered more on the poorer areas. And then next to the map, there was a picture of the gardens and two people standing in a garden, holding some fruits of their labor. And smiling.

I thought, there they are, these people who don’t have the same access to the supermarkets, forming a sense of community, being close to nature right in the middle of the city, and producing food that is probably better than the supermarket food! I thought, you know what, these people who are poorer, they are better off than the wealthy.

Blessed are the poor.

The other day, I went to Nantasket Beach with a friend, and afterwards we took a little drive to check out the rest of the peninsula near the beach. I had never seen the rest of the town of Hull before. As we made our way to the end of the road, the homes got bigger and bigger. Finally, near the end, they were ginormous. And I noticed something that I always notice when I go through wealthy places: the homes are empty. Yeah, you might see maybe one light on once in a while, but they are almost all – and always – empty. To be wealthy, you can look forward to living in an artificial castle, eating processed food – alone.

Woe to the rich.

To be an active part of the system we live in, you have to chase the money. So when you are left out of the system, when you don’t have a place in the profit-making and the new waves of lifestlye, when you’re left behind by the company, by the church, by the government, by the successful and victorious in life, you might feel the pain of being left out or left behind.

But after you do your grieving, there is good news.

In fact, you might want to jump for joy.

Because you are blessed.

“Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you that hunger now, for you shall be satisfied.
Blessed are you that weep now, for you shall laugh.
Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, on account of the Son of man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.

But woe to you that are rich, for you have received your consolation.
Woe to you that are full now, for you shall hunger.
Woe to you that laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.
Woe to you, when all men speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.” (LK 4:21-26)

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