Meeting Expectations

Saint Anselm wrote in “On the Fall of the Devil” that angels, as well as humans, are primarily driven in whatever they choose to do by two motivations.[1] In the first instance they are motivated to act in their own self-interest in pursuit of personal happiness, or to put it another way, they choose that which best benefits themselves. In the second instance angels and humans are motivated to do what is right; that which is the just and moral thing to do; what God wants them to do.

Poor in Spirit

Poor in Spirit

God gives us the grace and the power to do what is right, but any actual choosing to what is evil—that doesn’t come from God; it comes entirely from us. If we are honest with ourselves, we will admit that God hasn’t forsaken us; rather, we are the ones who have forsaken him.”[2] In the second story of creation[3], the first man and woman chose what they believed was in their own self-interest; they believed they would be like gods if they ate of the only thing that God had denied them. They did what they wanted not what God wanted and as a consequence they lost their innocence and happiness while gaining knowledge of good and evil and experiencing pain and suffering.

We, like our first parents, too often choose what we believe is in our self-interest, what we believe will make us happy even when we know or suspect that it is the wrong thing to do. When we choose to do what we want rather than what God wants we fall short in meeting God’s expectations and we fall to sin. Inevitably we find neither happiness nor any lasting benefit from our self-indulgent choices. We display great hubris before God while proclaiming moral superiority over our Creator.

Jesus taught us that in order to be given the keys to the kingdom of heaven we must become poor in spirit[4] but few take the time to understand what he meant. Even fewer model their lives as Christ taught and God desires. Known as the beatitudes, the Gospel of Matthew lists eight blessings pronounced by Jesus that mark the beginning of what is now known as the Sermon on the Mount.

While Jesus could often be found among those who were financially poor, he was not speaking of those who had no possessions or wealth when he said that the kingdom of heaven was for the poor in spirit. Those who are poor in spirit are those who are humble enough to choose to do what God wants rather than what they want. Those who are truly blessed are those who, without regard to wealth or social status, choose to do God’s will, to do what is right, moral, and just.

In his agony Jesus prayed, “not my will but yours be done[5] fully demonstrating what it means to be poor in spirit, doing what God wanted rather than what would certainly have been in his self-interest. Should we dare do anything less?


[1] Saint Anselm, “On the Fall of the Devil” in Three Philosophical Dialogues.
[2] Dinesh D’Souza, What’s So Great About God: A Reasonable Defense of the Goodness of God in a World Filled With Suffering.
[3] Gen 3:1-7.
[4] Mt 5:3.
[5] Lk 22:42.

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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