109 – The poor are at the center of the Gospel, are at heart of the Gospel, if we take away the poor from the Gospel we can’t understand the whole message of Jesus Christ.

From the heart, love and compassion spring, and life flows. Within a home, the children are the primary concern of the family, but the mother is the heart. Without the mother, what are the children?

In Christian life, we also have a heart that loves, that is moved, that gives life; not the heart of a mother but rather a Divine Heart: Jesus. He himself is the heart that takes care of his children, that provides for the poor, both for their material and spiritual necessities. Jesus is the Heart of the Gospel, which announces the message of salvation to all without exception. It is the Redeemer himself who encourages us along the path of conversion with words of compassion: ‘Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest’ (Mt 11:28).

Let us take care to not attribute to the children, who are the object of the mother’s care, the heart, which is hers. Without Jesus, what would become of the poor? The Gospel is above all the proclamation of Jesus Christ and his love for us.



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The Gospel is not the old rule, nor this Pantheism. If you look at the peripheries; the destitute… the drug addicts! Human trafficking… This is the Gospel. The poor are the Gospel… (Dialogue with the directors of the Latin American and Caribbean Confederation of Men and Women Religious (CLAR), June 6, 2013)

The Church in the Philippines is called to acknowledge and combat the causes of the deeply rooted inequality and injustice which mar the face of Filipino society, plainly contradicting the teaching of Christ. The Gospel calls individual Christians to live lives of honesty, integrity and concern for the common good. But it also calls Christian communities to create ‘circles of integrity’, networks of solidarity which can expand to embrace and transform society by their prophetic witness. The poor. The poor are at the center of the Gospel, are at heart of the Gospel, if we take away the poor from the Gospel we can’t understand the whole message of Jesus Christ. (Mass in the Cathedral of Manila, January 16, 2015)
Because this is the heart of the Gospel. I am a believer. I believe in God. I believe in Jesus Christ and his Gospel. […] For me, the heart of the Gospel is of the poor. I heard two months ago that someone said, for this reason (he is) speaking of the poor, because of this preference: ‘This Pope is a communist’. No! This is a banner of the Gospel, not of Communism: of the Gospel! But poverty without ideology, poverty… And for this reason I believe that the poor are at the center of the proclamation of Jesus. (Interview with Belgian youth, April 4, 2014English transcript)
Money is an instrument made to serve, and poverty is at the heart of the Gospel. And Jesus speaks of this conflict: two lords, two masters. I either follow one or the other. I either follow he who is my Father or I follow he who makes me a slave. And afterward, the truth: the devil always enters through people’s pockets, always. It’s his way in. We must fight to make a poor Church for the poor according to the Gospel, right? We must fight. And when I consider Matthew 25, which is the protocol about what we will be judged for, I understand better the meaning of ‘a poor Church for the poor:’ the works of mercy, right? In Matthew 25. It is possible, but we should fight, because the temptation for riches is very great. (Interview with TV2000 on the Year of Mercy, November 20, 2016)

Teachings of the Magisterium

Enter in the various parts of our study

I – The Gospel is above all Christ and the Good News
II –
The message of conversion and salvation is the heart of the Gospel
The message of the Gospel is destined for all, rich and poor
IV –
The poor according to the Gospel

I – The Gospel is above all Christ and the Good News

John Paul II

Jesus himself is the Gospel

Jesus not only announces the Gospel, but rather He himself is the Gospel. Those who believed in Him followed the word of his preaching, but much more so, the One who preached it. They followed Jesus, because He offered ‘words of life’, as Peter confessed after the discourse of the Master in the synagogue of Capharnaum: ‘Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life’ (Jn 6: 68). This identification of the word and life, of the preacher and the Gospel preached, is realized perfectly only in Jesus. Here is the reason why we also believe and follow him, when he manifests to us as the ‘one Master’ (cf. Mt 23:8-10). (John Paul II. General Audience, no. 9, March 20, 1988)

The principle word of the Gospel is the coming of the Son of Man

What is then, the principle Word [of the Gospel]? We have just read it: the coming of the Son of Man. The principle word of the Gospel is not ‘the separation’, ‘the absence’, but rather ‘the coming’ and ‘the presence’. It is not even ‘death’, but rather ‘life’. The Gospel is the Good News, because it pronounces the truth about life in the context of death. The coming of the Son of Man is the beginning of this life. (John Paul II. Homily in Roman parish of Saint Leonard of Port Maurcie, no. 2, November 30, 1980)

If there is no room for Christ, there is no room for man

For In all our planning, we can never forget that Christ is the Good News. We have nothing to offer but Jesus, the one mediator between God and man (cf. 1Tim 2:5). To evangelize is simply to enable him to be seen and heard, for we know that if there is no room for Christ, there is no room for man. (John Paul II. Address to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, March 1, 2002)

The Church’s preaching in all its forms must be centered on Jesus

Proclaiming the Gospel of hope calls for steadfast fidelity to the Gospel itself. The Church’s preaching, in all its forms, must be increasingly centred on the person of Jesus and increasingly converge on him. Vigilant care must be taken that Christ is presented in his fullness: not merely as an ethical model, but above all as the Son of God, the one, necessary Saviour of all, who lives and is at work in his Church. If our hope is to be true and unshakable, ‘an integral, clear and renewed preaching of the Risen Christ, the resurrection and eternal life’ must be a priority for pastoral activity in coming years. (John Paul II. Post-Synodal Apostolic exhortation Ecclesia in Europa, no. 48, June 28, 2003)

The Church should proclaim the fullness of the truth which God has enabled us to know

God’s revelation becomes definitive and complete through his only-begotten Son: ‘In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom he also created the world’ (Heb 1:1-2; cf. Jn 14:6). In this definitive Word of his revelation, God has made himself known in the fullest possible way. He has revealed to mankind who he is. This definitive self-revelation of God is the fundamental reason why the Church is missionary by her very nature. She cannot do other than proclaim the Gospel, that is, the fullness of the truth which God has enabled us to know about himself. (John Paul II. Encyclical Redemptoris missio, no. 5, December 7, 1990)

Benedict XVI

Christ lives in the Sacred Scriptures

The Church knows well that Christ lives in the Sacred Scriptures. For this very reason – as the Constitution stresses – she has always venerated the divine Scriptures in the same way as she venerates the Body of the Lord (cf. Dei Verbum, no. 21). (Benedict XVI. Address for the 40th anniversary of the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine revelation Dei Verbum, September 16, 2005)

Paul VI

There is no true evangelization if Jesus, the Son of God, is not proclaimed

Nevertheless this always remains insufficient, because even the finest witness will prove ineffective in the long run if it is not explained, justified – what Peter called always having ‘your answer ready for people who ask you the reason for the hope that you all have’ (1Pet 3:15) – and made explicit by a clear and unequivocal proclamation of the Lord Jesus. The Good News proclaimed by the witness of life sooner or later has to be proclaimed by the word of life. There is no true evangelization if the name, the teaching, the life, the promises, the kingdom and the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God are not proclaimed. (Paul VI. Apostolic exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi, no. 22, December 8, 1975)

II – The message of conversion and salvation is the heart of the Gospel

Benedict XVI

God’s love for man is the heart of the Gospel

The Letter to the Hebrews has set us before Christ, the eternal High Priest, exalted to the Father’s glory after offering himself as the one perfect sacrifice of the New Covenant in which the work of Redemption was accomplished. St Augustine fixed his gaze on this mystery and in it he found the Truth he was so ardently seeking. Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word, the Sacrificed and Risen Lamb, is the Face of God-Love for every human being on his journey along the paths of time towards eternity. The Apostle John writes in a passage that can be considered parallel to the one just proclaimed in the Letter to the Hebrews: ‘In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins’ (I Jn 4: 10). Here is the heart of the Gospel, the central nucleus of Christianity. (Benedict XVI. Homily during the pastoral visit to Vigevano and Pavia, Italy, April 22, 2007)

John Paul II

Gospel means ‘good news’; and the ‘good news’ is Jesus, the Son of God

Dear young people, I am saying this to tell you in advance about the handing on of this Word. I am handing on to you, that is, I am ‘passing’ on to you Mark’s Gospel. Gospel means ‘good news’ and the ‘good news’ is Jesus, the Son of God, who became man to save the world. The heart of the Gospel is precisely the preaching of Jesus, his actions, his Death and Resurrection; it is Jesus Christ, he himself, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who died and rose again for everyone. (John Paul II. Address to Roman and French Young people, no. 2, March 20, 1997)

The program of evangelization for the Third Millennium is the same as that for all times: Christ

The proclamation of the Gospel emerged as a prominent theme in the interventions of the Synod Fathers, who on several occasions and in a wide variety of ways stated that the living centre of the preaching of the Gospel is Christ, crucified and risen for the salvation of all peoples. Christ is in fact the heart of evangelization and, as I myself have often insisted, is the very programme of the new evangelization, which ‘ultimately has its centre in Christ himself, who is to be known, loved and imitated, so that in him we may live the life of the Trinity, and with him transform history until its fulfilment in the heavenly Jerusalem. This is a programme which does not change with shifts of times and cultures, even though it takes account of time and culture for the sake of true dialogue and effective communication. This programme for all times is our programme for the Third Millennium’ (John Paul II, Novo Millennio Ineunte). (John Paul II. Apostolic exhortation Pastor gregis, no. 27, October 16, 2003)

The Gospel is the book of eternal life

In the Old Testament it meant the exodus from the ‘house of slavery’ of Egypt and the passing over the Red Sea, under the special protection of the Lord God, towards the ‘Promised Land’. The wandering lasted for forty years. In the New Testament this historic Passover was accomplished in Christ during three days: from Thursday evening to the Sunday morning. And it means the passing through death to the resurrection, and at the same time the exodus from the slavery of sin towards participation in God’s life by means of Grace. Christ says in today’s Gospel: ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never see death’ (Jn 8:51). These words indicate at the same time what the Gospel is. It is the book of eternal life, towards which go the innumerable ways of man’s earthly pilgrimage. (John Paul II. Homily for Easter Mass with the students of Rome, April 5, 1979)

At the centre of the Good News is the person of the Redeemer

At the centre of the Good News that we are called to proclaim is the great mystery of Redemption and, especially, the person of the Redeemer. All our efforts as Pastor of the Church are directed to making the Redeemer better known and loved. (John Paul II. Address to the Bishops of Sri Lanka on their ad limina visit, April 28, 1979)

At the centre of the Good News is the person of the Redeemer

The Good News of Christ points towards conversion

What is the essential content of the teaching of Jesus? This could be answered with one word: The Gospel, that is, the Good News. In effect, Jesus began his preaching with these words: ‘This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel’ (Mk 1:15). (John Paul II. General audience, no. 5, March 20, 1988)

At the heart of the Gospel, the cross is engraved

The Gospel does not always please men. […] For this divine truth, this good news, holds a strong tension in its interior. Within it is condensed the opposition between that which comes from God and that which is of the world. Christ said: ‘If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out o f the world, the world hates you’ (Jn 15: 19). And also: ‘Realize that it hated me first’ (Jn 15: 18). At the heart of the Gospel, of the good news, the cross is engraved. In it two great currents intersect: one, coming from God, is directed toward the world, toward men that are in the world, a current of love and truth; the second, that which runs through the world: ‘sensual lust, enticement for the eyes, and a pretentious life’ (1Jn 2:16). None of this comes ‘from the Father.’ (John Paul II. Homily for the associations and counsel for the laity, no. 4, November 18, 1980)

Paul VI

At the center of Christ’s Good News is liberation from sin

As the kernel and center of His Good News, Christ proclaims salvation, this great gift of God which is liberation from everything that oppresses man but which is above all liberation from sin and the Evil One, in the joy of knowing God and being known by Him, of seeing Him, and of being given over to Him. (Paul VI. Apostolic exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi, no. 9, December 8, 1975)

Congregation for the Clergy

The central point of Christ’s Good News comprises liberation from sin and from the evil one

The message of Jesus about God is Good News for humanity. Jesus proclaimed the Kingdom of God; a new and definitive intervention by God, with a transforming power equal and even superior to his creation of the world. In this sense, ‘Christ proclaims salvation as the outstanding element and, as it were, the central point of his Good News. This is the great gift of God which is to be considered as comprising not merely liberation from all those things by which man is oppressed, but especially liberation from sin and from the domination of the evil one, a liberation which incorporates that gladness enjoyed by every man who knows God and is known by him, who sees God and who surrenders himself trustingly to him’ (EN 9). (Congregation for the Clergy. General Directory for Catechesis, no. 101, April 17, 1988)

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Paschal mystery stands at the centre of the Good News

The Paschal mystery of Christ’s cross and Resurrection stands at the centre of the Good News that the apostles, and the Church following them, are to proclaim to the world. God’s saving plan was accomplished ‘once for all’ (Heb 9:26) by the redemptive death of his Son Jesus Christ. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 571)

III – The message of the Gospel is destined for all, rich and poor

Benedict XVI

The Gospel transmits a universal message: ‘Make disciples of all nations’

The Church, in other words, must constantly rededicate herself to her mission. The three Synoptic Gospels highlight various aspects of the missionary task. The mission is built first of all upon personal experience: ‘You are witnesses’ (Lk 24:48); it finds expression in relationships: ‘Make disciples of all nations’ (Mt 28:19); and it spreads a universal message: ‘Preach the Gospel to the whole creation’ (Mk 16:15). Through the demands and constraints of the world, however, this witness is constantly obscured, the relationships are alienated and the message is relativized. (Benedict XVI. Address to the Catholics engaged in the life of the Church and society, September 25, 2011)

John Paul II

All must be poor in spirit

You know that the preferential option for the poor, robustly proclaimed by Puebla, is not an invitation to exclusivisms, nor would it justify that a bishop refuse to announce the word of conversion and salvation to such and such a group of people under the pretext that they are not poor – otherwise, what is the essence attributed to this term? – for his duty is to proclaim the entire Gospel to all men, that all may be ‘poor in spirit’. But it is an invitation to a special solidarity with the small and weak, those who suffer and weep, those who are humiliated and left at the margin of life and society, to help them conquest with increasing plenitude their own dignity as human persons and as children of God. (John Paul II. Allocution to the bishops of Brazil, no. 6.9, July 10, 1980)

Jesus said ‘love one another’; he did not specify only the poor

The filial union of Jesus with the Father is expressed in the perfect love that He has also made principal commandment of the Gospel: ‘You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and the principal of the commandments’ (Mt 37). As you know, to this commandment, Jesus united another ‘that is like it’: that of love of neighbor (cf. Mt 22:39). And He gives Himself as an example of this love: ‘I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another’ (Jn 13:34). Jesus taught and gave his followers a love modeled on the example of his own love. (John Paul II. General audience, no. 1, August 31, 1988)

The Gospel is the universal message of salvation

Today in certainly different social situations, the spiritual sons and daughters of Bishop Scalabrini, who were later joined by the Lay Scalabrinian Missionaries, heirs to the same charism, continue to witness to Christ’s love for migrants and to offer them the Gospel, the universal message of salvation. May Bishop Scalabrini sustain by his example and intercession everyone throughout the world who works in the service of migrants and refugees. (John Paul II. Message for the 84th World Migration Day, no. 5, November 9, 1997)

The Good News is a universal message destined for the people of all times

‘These (signs) are written… that believing you may have life in his Name’ (Jn 20: 31). The Good News is a universal message destined for the people of all times. It is personally addressed to each one and asks to be expressed in his life style. When Christians become ‘living Gospels’, they are transformed into eloquent ‘signs’ of the Lord’s mercy and their witness touches others’ hearts more easily. As docile instruments in the hands of divine Providence, they have a profound effect on history. This is how it was with these six new Blesseds, who come from beloved Italy, a land rich in saints. (John Paul II. Homily during the Beatification Mass, no. 2, April 27, 2003)

IV – The poor according to the Gospel

John Paul II

The poor in spirit: those who are spiritually open to welcome truth and grace

In fact, in the center of the ‘Good News’ is the program of the beatitudes (cf. Mt 5: 3-11), […] He said: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’ […] Here one also observes the eschatological and eternal perspective of the happiness revealed and announced by the Gospel. The beatitude of poverty brings us back to the beginning of the Messianic activity of Jesus, when, speaking in the synagogue of Nazareth, he said: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor.’ (Lk 4:18) This is regarding those who are poor and only and not even so much in the economical-social connotation (of ‘class’), but rather those who are spiritually open to welcome truth and grace, that proceeds from the Father, as gift of his love, a free gift (given gratis), for they are interiorly free from the attachment of the goods of the earth and disposed to use and share them according to the demands of justice and charity. For this condition of the poor according to God (animism), Jesus ‘gives praise to the Father’, since ‘He has hidden these things (= the great things of God) from the wise and the learned has revealed them to the childlike’ (Lk 10:21). Therefore it is not stated that Jesus alienated people of a better economic conditions, such as the publican Zacchaeus who climbed a tree to see him (cf. Lk 19: 2-9), or those other friends of Jesus whose names are transmitted to us in the Gospel. According to the words of Jesus they are the ‘blessed’ are the ‘poor in spirit’ (cf. Mt 5:3) and ‘those who hear the word of God and observe it’ (Lk 11:28). (John Paul II. General audience, no. 5-6, March 20, 1980)

Pius XI

The poor in spirit are those who esteem spiritual goods more than earthly ones

‘Blessed are the poor in spirit’ were the first words that fell from the lips of the Divine Master in His sermon on the mount. This lesson is more than ever necessary in these days of materialism a thirst for the goods and pleasures of this earth. All Christians, rich or poor, must keep their eye fixed on heaven, remembering that ‘we have not here a lasting city, but we seek one that is to come’ (Heb 8: 14). The rich should not place their happiness in things of earth nor spend their best efforts in the acquisition of them. Rather, considering themselves only as stewards of their earthly goods, let them be mindful of the account they must render of them to their Lord and Master, and value them as precious means that God has put into their hands for doing good; let them not fail, besides, to distribute of their abundance to the poor, according to the evangelical precept (Lk 11:41). Otherwise there shall be verified of them and their riches the harsh condemnation of Saint James the Apostle: ‘Go to now, ye rich men; weep and howl in your miseries which shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten; your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be for a testimony against you and shall eat your flesh like fire. You have stored up to yourselves wrath against the last days’ (Jas 5:1-3). But the poor too, in their turn, while engaged, according to the laws of charity and justice, in acquiring the necessities of life and also in bettering their condition, should always remain ‘poor in spirit’ (Mt 5:3), and hold spiritual goods in higher esteem than earthly property and pleasures. Let them remember that the world will never be able to rid itself of misery, sorrow and tribulation, which are the portion even of those who seem most prosperous. Patience, therefore, is the need of all, that Christian patience which comforts the heart with the divine assurance of eternal happiness. (Pius XI. Encyclical Divini Redemptoris, no. 44-45, March 19, 1937)

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

All men should be poor in spirit

It is only when one begins with the task of evangelization understood in its entirety that the authentic requirements of human progress and liberation are appreciated. This liberation has as its indispensable pillars: ‘the truth about Jesus the Savior’; ‘the truth about the Church’; and ‘the truth about man and his dignity’. It is in light of the Beatitudes, and especially the Beatitude of the poor of heart, that the Church, which wants to be the Church of the poor throughout the world, intends to come to the aid of the noble struggle for truth and justice. She addresses each person, and for that reason, every person. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Instruction on certain aspects of the ‘Theology of Liberation’, XI, no. 5, August 6, 1984)

Catechism of Saint Pius X

To have a heart detached from riches is to be poor in spirit

Who are the poor in spirit whom Jesus Christ calls blessed?
The poor in spirit are, according to the gospel, those whose hearts are detached from riches; who make good use of riches should they have any; who do not seek them too eagerly, if they have none; and who suffer the loss of such things with resignation when deprived of them. (Catechism of Saint Pius X. The Beatitudes, no. 4)

Saint Augustine of Hippo

‘The poor in spirit’ are the humble and God-fearing

What, then, does He say? ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’ We read in Scripture concerning the striving after temporal things, ‘All is vanity and presumption of spirit;’ but presumption of spirit means audacity and pride: usually also the proud are said to have great spirits; and rightly, inasmuch as the wind also is called spirit. And hence it is written, ‘Fire, hail, snow, ice, spirit of tempest.’ But, indeed, who does not know that the proud are spoken of as puffed up, as if swelled out with wind? And hence also that expression of the apostle, ‘Knowledge puffs up, but charity edifies.’ And ‘the poor in spirit’ are rightly understood here, as meaning the humble and God-fearing, i.e. those who have not the spirit which puffs up. (Saint Augustine of Hippo. The Sermon on the Mount, Book 1, Ch. 1, a. 3)

Saint John Chrysostom

The poor in spirit are the humble who are awestruck and tremble at the Commandments of God

‘Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.’

What is meant by ‘the poor in spirit?’ The humble and contrite in mind. For by ‘spirit’ He hath here designated the soul, and the faculty of choice. That is, since many are humble not willingly, but compelled by stress of circumstances; letting these pass (for this were no matter of praise), He blesses them first, who by choice humble and contract themselves. But why does he say not, ‘the humble,’ but rather, ‘the poor’? Because this is more than that. For he means here them that are awestruck, and tremble at the Commandments of God. Whom by his prophet Isaiah God earnestly accepting said, ‘To whom I look, but to him who is meek and quiet, and trembles at my words’? (Saint John Chrysostom. Homilies on the Gospel according to Saint Matthew, Homily XV)

Saint Cyril of Alexandria

Being poor in spirit is to be predisposed for higher things

In the Gospel according to Saint Matthew it is said, Blessed are the poor in spirit, that we should understand the poor in spirit to be one of a modest and somewhat depressed mind. Hence our Savior says, Learn from me, for I am meek and lowly of heart. But Luke says, Blessed are the poor, without the addition of spirit, calling those poor who despise riches. For it became those who were to preach the doctrines of the saving Gospel to have no covetousness, but their affections set upon higher things. (Saint Cyril of Alexandria quoted by Saint Thomas Aquinas. Catena Aurea in Luke 6:20-23)

Saint Basil the Great

Poverty does not save the covetous - many are poor in their possessions yet most covetous in their disposition

But not everyone oppressed with poverty is blessed, but he who has preferred the commandment of Christ to worldly riches. For many are poor in their possessions, yet most covetous in their disposition; these poverty does not save, but their affections condemn. For nothing involuntary deserves a blessing, because all virtue is characterized by the freedom of the will. Blessed then is the poor man as being the disciple of Christ, Who endured poverty for us. For the Lord Himself has fulfilled every work which leads to happiness, leaving Himself an example for us to follow. (Saint Basil the Great, quoted by Saint Thomas Aquinas. Catena Aurea in Luke 6:20-23)

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