"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." - Matthew 5:3
In September Janet and I had the chance to walk for 10 days on the Way of St. Francis in central Italy. Besides being a physically challenging time for us, it was also a wonderfully reflective time, as we took one of Jesus's beatitudes each day to reflect upon. This first beatitude "congratulates" and says "you're on the right road" if you realize you are spiritually poor--an openness to change; to surrender to God's grace.
This is the opening line to Jesus's Sermon on the Mount. We reflected on this statement--that entry into this thing Jesus calls the "Kingdom of Heaven," begins (and I think continues) as we face our own poverty of spirit. At a foundational heart level, I can't fix myself. I need that from God, from the Holy Spirit. That was true 50 years ago and is true today. The transformation of the heart grows in each of us facing our need, our lack. Jesus doesn't push us away but welcomes the person who is honest about their need for his grace.
Throughout Jesus's ministry, we see it modeled in his response to the Syrophoenician woman, (in her humble ask for scraps from the table - Matt. 15:25-28), the Roman centurion (I am not worthy to have you come to my home - Matt. 8:8-13), and even the rich young ruler (Jesus looked and him and loved him...one thing you lack - Mark 10:21). The open and "spiritually poor" person is always received with welcome from our Lord.
For us, as we talked about a new beatitude each day, we saw that they build upon one another. They all are rooted in seeing my need for ongoing growth and change--it is at the root of what it means to become "teleios."