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“For the poor will never cease from the land, therefore I command you saying, ‘You shall open wide to your brother. your poor and your needy in your land.”  Deuteronomy 15:11

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven”  Matthew 5:2

I can hear the groans now.  “Okay, here we go, another blog or writing about money and how bad we are about it and how we should feel guilty..blah, blah, blah.”  So hang in there with me for this not about money per se and its primary aspect has nothing to do with guilt.  Is money a factor?  Sure.  But you can be rich in many different things; education, relationships, physical prowess, physical attractiveness, and yes, you can be poor in those many things as well.

So the question is; in what manner of things do I feel poor?  As well as in what manner of things do I feel rich.  It is my firm belief that the true measure of poor vs. rich is in the spirit.  While it is very rare (remember Jesus Christ said it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter into the kingdom), a person with great wealth, can be appropriately poor and as well a person with little earthly means can act very rich, in a way that is disastrous.

I have led a life and am today materially blessed; especially as it relates to the rest of the world.  Yet even within my life, I can remember times where I was in poverty; services cut off, skipping meals because I did not have the ability to purchase them, asking for help.  It was during those times (as well as today) many blessings came to me.  What I can remember dearly are those random acts of kindness.  Where someone I knew and sometimes total strangers, did something to get me through the day.  I also remember my reaction.  My reaction was one of sincere, total gratitude.  It was not that I deserved the help that I was given.  It was that someone, out of the goodness of their heart, had seen fit to help me.  Oh, how much I wanted to thank them and so much wanted to do something for them in return; not out of guilt or some sense of not wanting to owe them; just in gratitude.

I also have been successful.  I have put in effort, I have done significant training and I have achieved.  In those achievements I have been, in terms of this world rewarded.  And therein lies the key and for me, my potential down fall.  For, if I am not extremely careful, there is little gratitude, true sincere gratitude for “my rewards”, except perhaps self gratitude.  Why should I be grateful to others, I worked very hard, I achieved, I sweated, I sacrificed, and therefore I am entitled to my gains!  That is not blessings!  That is JUST DESERTS!!!!!    And that is the pathway to hell.

Is there truly an example of totally self made person?  A person who had no teacher, had no mentor, never had someone give them something; advice or encouragement, who willed themselves not to get sick or designed their own muscle function, how tall they were going to be, the color of their hair and so many other things?  I don’t believe so.  And listen closely, very closely to people in this world who are considered rich.  Compare the amount of time they spend speaking gratitude versus the amount of time they speak to their own achievements.

So now, we have just finished celebrating an Easter Season.  Our Most Precious Savior, Jesus Christ has died and risen, for us; FOR ME!  Do I feel rich or poor about that?  In the sense that I mean it here, do I feel that I have somehow lived a life decent enough, sinned, maybe just a little, but not as much as everyone else, loved enough, sacrificed enough that I richly deserver the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for me.  Or in comparison do I feel poor?  Poor in the respect, that I can never live good enough, pure enough, love enough, give enough, sacrifice enough, to deserve the sacrifice made by Jesus Christ?

If I answer I am poor, then result can be, honest, sincere, total gratitude.  Not a gratitude shrouded in guilt, but I gratitude overflowing in the joy of receiving, the knowledge of an all encompassing love, and a true desire to help. I can have worldly possessions and still understand that they are there not because I deserve them.  I can be a person of knowledge and stature, yet be humbly meek and grateful.  In my overwhelming gratitude, I will have the true desire to emulate the one who has given so much and want to do the same.

Our Most Gracious and Heavenly Father, Your mercies, blessings and gifts are beyond my comprehension to understand and surely beyond a reward for my actions.  Please, Dear Father, reveal to me the poor state that I am, compared the richness to be found in You.  Give me a humble spirit toward myself and a grateful spirit toward you.  That my mouth would be filled with Your praises and my life devoted to helping as I have truly been helped.  That in this and in all things Your Most Holy Name Will Be Praised For Ever.  In the name of Your Most Precious Gift to us; Jesus Christ we pray.


And when they came into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him  Matthew 2:13

Three men of some considerable means.  Some say they were kings, others wise wealthy men.  That they were rich is shown by the gifts that they brought.  Not only gold which we know concerning value, but frankincense was also very expensive because it came from a tree that only grew in a few places. Myrrh was also an expensive byproduct of a bush that was used in making fine perfumes.  So that these men had access to enough wealth to acquire these gifts is a testimony to the wealth they possessed.

That they had a level of status or power is shown by the way they are greeted by Herod.  First Herod received them in the first place.  Herod, who was known for his ruthlessness and self promotion to get ahead, would not have taken the time to interact with just anyone.  He would have had to have seen an advantage for meeting with these people and hearing their story.  That Herod believed the story or at least in the possibility of the story and purposefully sends them on their way with the charge to come back and tell him of the Child so he may worship the child too (of course a lie), also shows the extent to which these men had a reputation for wisdom and divination.

Not many facts about these men are recorded in the book of Matthew, the only gospel to make a record of their actions.  Yet by their actions there are several deductions we can make.  First they were men of searching and curiosity.  For even with significant wealth and power, they knew of the potential for something more.  That is why they first searched the heavens and seeing a new portent, the star, they needed to know its meaning. These were men of determination.  After learning that the star was a sign of the birth of the King of the Jews, they used their resources to mount an expedition and would not stop until they found the place where the new King was.  They were men of faith.  When they came to Herod they did not say that they had been specifically told by an angel or in some dream giving them clear and direct instructions.  That they were not sure where they would end up is shown by them stopping to ask Herod in the first place where the King was.  So they firmly believed that no matter how long, no matter how far, their journey would end with them finding the Child King.  They were humble.  For what was the purpose of their journey?  Did they want to form some new mutually beneficial alliance with this King?  Did they want to gain some military intelligence on the strength of the New King’s armies?  No.  They knew that when they found the King, he would be a very young child.  They came for only one purpose.  To humbly bow before Him, to worship Him and present Him with gifts.  They truly did not see themselves as equals to this New King.

Today, think about how we often idolize those who have riches and power.  We sometimes envy them because they seemingly are almost unrestricted in using their wealth to fulfill their own plans and desires.  We believe their wealth gives them greater power to influence societies and governments far beyond the capacity of standard members of society.  Often we believe that power and wealth are a the center of being able to make our dreams come true.  That is surely not what these wise, wealthy and powerful men teach us.  For they searched for something more, something which could not be fulfilled by their ability to buy or persuade.  They left their comfort, which was probably considerable, to take a long and arduous journey to a small and desolate place.  They risked danger to themselves when the disregarded the command of worldly king to return to him and share their news after being told by God not to.  And why did they do all of this, make the sacrifices they did, to worship.  To worship one who, they knew even as a little child, had already achieved a greater status than they ever would.  Doesn’t sound like very many of the rich and powerful today.

So thanks be to God Almighty that we don’t have to be rich or powerful to know about Jesus Christ.  Yet lets take the lessons from these “wise” men and apply them to our lives.  May we always be open to and looking for the signs that Jesus Christ is alive and well in our lives; the signs of His Love, Mercy and Forgiveness.  Let us understand that the wealth that we have is ultimately to be used in His service and in that usage is where we will find blessings and wisdom.  That no matter our status, true, humble worship should be our response to Jesus Christ, who as the King, did not and does not demand payment of tribute or reign down harsh treatment upon His subjects.

No, this King left His palace and came down to earth for us, He died for us and now lives that we might know the Father because of His sacrifice for us.  There is no greater power or wealth then His Love for us.  Amen.

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