A Poverty that Enriches
A Poverty that Enriches
Rome (Italy). "He became poor so that by his poverty we might become rich"
(2 Cor. 8:9) is the title of the Holy Father’s Message for Lent 2014. The title is a quote from the Second Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians in which the Apostle encourages the Christians to be generous in helping the faithful of Jerusalem who were in need.
“God does not reveal Himself through the world’s power and wealth, but through weakness and poverty”. This is why the Church, and therefore all Christians, beginning with the Pope to the last believer, must be like Christ who “though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor”. (2 Cor. 8: 9)
This is the heart of the message of Pope Francis, be like Christ, not like the wealthy of the world. There are no ‘princes’ of the Church, but ‘servants’ of God’s children. The splendour of human wealth does not make the Gospel credible and its witnesses and their Teacher lovable. Rather, there are other much more luminous splendours, that of simplicity, of humility, of acceptance of those who suffer.
What does this invitation to poverty, to a poor life in an evangelical sense mean for our educating communities today? What is God’s way?
God does not reveal Himself cloaked in worldly power and wealth, but rather in weakness and poverty, “Though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor.” The aim of Jesus’ poverty was not poverty in itself, but, as St. Paul says, “So that you might become rich through His poverty”. This is not a play on words, or a catch phrase!
It sums up God’s logic, the logic of love, the logic of the Incarnation and of the Cross. It is precisely His way of loving us, of coming close to us, like the Good Samaritan who approaches the man left half dead on the roadside. What gives us true freedom, true salvation, and true happiness is the compassion, tenderness, and sharing of His love. In imitation of our Master, we are called to confront the misery of our brothers and sisters, touch it, make it our own, and take practical steps to alleviate it. Destitution is not the same as poverty. Destitution is poverty without faith, without support, without hope.
Therefore, it is a poverty that does not have temporal ties or modern antagonists. “In every epoch and in every place,” writes Pope Francis, “God continues to save people and the world through the poverty of Christ”. It is the style that should be seen in personal witness insofar as “God’s riches cannot pass through our riches, but always and only through our personal and community poverty, animated by the Spirit of Christ”. It is a witness that must lead us to bend over the poverty of others through a crescendo of effort that “strengthens attention and responsibility for human destitution and thus become merciful workers of mercy”.
“Lent is the appropriate time for self-denial,” concludes the Holy Father, “and we do well to ask ourselves what we can give up in order to help and enrich others with our own poverty. Let us not forget that real poverty hurts. It would not be real self-denial without this dimension of penance. I distrust a charity that costs nothing and does not hurt”.
We wish to treasure his words and renew our efforts so that “violations of human dignity, of discrimination, and of abuse may cease, and which in many cases are the origin of destitution and it is this that we must fight,” the Pope adds.