Jesus looked at the rich young man with love and asked him to go sell all that he had and follow Him. Right before him was the path to true happiness, but he clung to his possessions and his own will and went away sad (Mark 10:17–27). Jesus then looked at His disciples and said, “It is easier for a camel to pass through [the] eye of [a] needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:25).
To be “poor in spirit” does not necessarily mean poor in material things. It is an inner attitude of trusting and depending on God’s loving care for you and for all His children (Matthew 6:25–34). It could be a wealthy person like Zacchaeus who generously shared his riches or someone like the poor widow who gave all she had.
By living the virtue of magnificence, a person is able to do great things for God by not hoarding their riches or talents. In doing so, they know that true happiness is found by recognizing God as the source of our gifts and by storing up treasures in heaven.
The inner disposition of being poor in spirit extends beyond giving of material goods. It is also recognizing our dependence on God at all times but especially on God’s grace and mercy in times of physical and spiritual suffering. For in our weakness we become strong and learn how to be compassionate. To be poor in spirit means to be compassionate, that is “to suffer with.” It can be easy to fall into self-pity or loneliness during times of mental and physical suffering. By looking to the Person of Jesus Christ, you can gain strength by confidently knowing that He, too, experienced suffering and cried out to His Father.
The remedy for the experience of physical and mental poverty is to live this beatitude. It is by giving of oneself that you discover who you are as a child of God. The rich young man couldn’t give away security and his possessions, but Zacchaeus and the poor widow did and knew the happiness of the kingdom of heaven.