The second part of the passage is directed especially to a small remnant of the covenant people who, despite their suffering and their poverty, have served the Lord faithfully, in their humble ritual worship of the Lord, and in their daily lives.
These, the Lord says, “shall take refuge in the name of the Lord,” that is, because they did not stray from God, not even in their suffering or their poverty, they are now admitted into the blessedness, the very joy of God, which knows no end. They who have no deceit in them, those who are humble and “steadfastly reliant upon God,” as one scholar says, shall dwell in the light of the Lord.
The humble and the poor appear in our second reading from the first Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians, too. Paul is taking to task the young self-righteous Corinthian community of the baptized, for diluting the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and their faith, with philosophical speculation, and with gnostic notions of pagan wisdom. He tells them quite clearly that what really matters, what really is true, is that they “are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, as well as righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.” He reminds them that God, the Holy One, the Blessed One, is the author of their faith.
Paul wants them to understand that, indeed, something great has happened to them: The very wisdom of God, the Lord Jesus Christ; not because they are great according to the world’s standard of power, or status, or wealth, but because of the holy generosity of God, who abundantly gives blessedness, love, to those who call upon God and depend upon God to see them through their suffering, through their life.
In today’s Gospel passage from Matthew, our Lord Jesus himself speaks of the blessedness of God, a blessedness not in the form of an idea, or a notion, or of ideals, but as the pure presence of love on the part of God in the abject lives of the poor: God, Jesus says, is aware of all humble and faithful servants, no matter what religion or nationality. God knows that it is often these little ones, the ‘anawim’ in Hebrew, who, with no deceit, and no possessions of their own, practice true righteousness, who stand before God with nothing of their own to claim, but who give the Lord everything every day. God, Jesus is telling us, God hears their cry, and pronounces them blessed, treasure-of-God, worthy-of-all-that-God-is: Mercy, Kindness, Life, Light, Joy.
In every one of the beatitudes in his sermon, Jesus identifies some form of suffering on the part of his little ones, his beloved, the ones who have nothing but the love of Christ to depend on; nothing but Christ to follow; nothing but the Gospel of the Kingdom to guide them and to console them in times of rejection and of loss.
Notice, too, that, though Jesus speaks in the prophetic future, “they will,” this does not mean it has not happened yet. It means it is happening, this blessedness of Christ, it is being given and planted in the hearts of poor, the suffering, the rejected and the judged. Our Lord God would never put off until then, what God can give now to the righteous.
May what our Lord God has planted in every human heart, his love, his joy, bear fruit in true righteousness, true sanctification, and true redemption. May Christ our Light shine upon us, and may we help one another, so that the world will be redeemed, saved, healed, and restored to blessedness.