The Poorest Among us are those without God
From Isaiah “The spirit of the Lord is upon me, He has sent me to bring good tidings to the lowly, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release the prisoners, to announce a year of favor from the Lord and a day of vindication by our God, to comfort all who mourn.”
(Is. 61: 1 - 2).
Jesus got up to read from the Prophet Isaiah; “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, and to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.” Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down. “Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Lk. 4: 18-19, 21). His words indicating he is the Messiah infuriated those in attendance. However, the very words regarding the poor is what his ministry encompassed. Who are the poor as Jesus teaches from Isaiah and is concerned with those who have nothing? Take a look at the central theme in Luke and four excerpted sections found in his gospel account. This entails what God is about.
The first is this scripture from Isaiah as a prologue to his ministry. A much deeper scenario delves into the spiritual crisis found throughout human history when too many have lost their way from depression and thoughts of suicide because there is no-one to lift their spirits up with hope.
Secondly, “Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours.” (Lk. 6: 20). The beginning of his sermon on the plain, as a comparison of Matthew’s sermon on the mount. Again a great emphasis on the Lord’s concern for those who are neglected and can not find their way into the central theme of society, exclusion from acceptance by those that appear above the lowly.
Thirdly, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard; the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.” (Lk. 7: 22). The specific emphasis here is the proclamation to the poor. Not that they are given goods but good news.
Fourth, “Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you; For you will be repaid at the Resurrection of the righteous.” (Lk. 14: 13 - 14).
When we view poverty it usually indicates a severe reduction in material goods, especially money which limits our ability to have a decent existence. Many of the parables or stories Jesus spoke of related to just that, money or the ability to share in the world’s goods.
However, the essence of the term poor in both Lk and Mt go a little deeper than material wealth; it opens a door that touches those who are on the fringe of an impoverished existence that may have a devastating effect on someone who is deficient in spirituality with Almighty God. And yes, the lack of material goods can bring people down, but the absence of a wealth of a spiritual understanding will quickly stand in the way of the grace that comes from a loving God, once we are in his shared benevolence.
Jesus once told his disciples that the poor you will always have with you; but the whole demeanor of his ministry was to lift up those who can not lift themselves. They are the ones without God who are the poorest among us!
Ralph B. Hathaway, The poorest among us.