Most of us are very familiar with the beatitudes as they are proclaimed in Matthew's gospel. The first beatitude especially seems to be an easier way of hearing what Jesus is saying, "Blessed are the poor in spirit. Theirs is the reign of God." But Luke simply says, "Blessed are the poor," the poor -- those who are without, "theirs is the reign of God." Matthew also does not give the four woes as Luke does, "Woe to those who are rich." When we hear those words proclaimed by Jesus, I think it makes all of us a bit uncomfortable because we know that we have so many blessings.
So we really wonder, I think, well, for many reasons about these words of Jesus, but especially about "Blessed are the poor." How could Jesus say that in a world where we confront, if we have any awareness at all, an extreme degree of absolute poverty for over a billion people on our planet? Absolute poverty means they have nothing. They're living in misery, desolation. What word can you use to describe that situation for those who are absolutely poor? How can Jesus say they are blessed?