Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3-10
When Jesus spoke these words, he was turning the priorities of the world upside down. Jesus said that what we think is important may not in fact be that which is really important. Lives of wealth and ease are not the goal. Lives of power and fame will not bring us happiness.
At this station Jesus falls for the third time. The words of Jesus teach us how to deal with falling. Turn the other cheek. Go the extra mile. Give to those who ask. Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you. Store up your treasures in heaven. Do not judge others. Do unto others as you would have them do to you. Enter by the narrow gate.
We should not be surprised when we fall; when we land face down in the dust. On Ash Wednesday we go forward to receive ashes to be reminded that we are dust and that we will return to dust. At that service we also read Psalm 103 where we are encouraged that it is this very “dustiness” that draws forth the love that God has for us.
As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed. He remembers that we are dust.
The verse does not say that God has compassion on us in spite of the fact that we are dust, but because of that fact. God is like the mother who sees her child fall and come running to her to ask for comfort for a scrape on the knee. Our mother picks us up and embraces us, filled with kindness for our childlike frailty. From this mother we learn compassion, the kind of compassion that Jesus is teaching us in his words about being poor in spirit, meek and merciful.