Something on Poverty


One concrete expression of poverty--and of following Jesus--is service. Photo by Br. Jerome Quinto, SDB

Our discussion on the chapter on poverty in our Spiritual Theology class can well be summarized in just two words:  Trusting God.

The teacher took off on this topic about the empty tombs.

Jordan has them, and so is Egypt. In fact, Egypt has many of them. Israel has got only one, and yet, it is the most celebrated of all.  This empty tomb is the most concrete expression that Jesus is alive; He resurrected.

And indeed, this event is an example where privation leads us to an enrichment.

Jesus, our model of poverty, surrendered His very life to the Father. And He has received it back—only to keep it for all eternity.

Sr. Joan Chittister’s constant refrain on that chapter entitled A Time for Risk which goes “We can die before our time or we can live until we die” is something beyond Jesus. For He died when he needed to; and He lived past beyond His death.

His death, as in His life, has showed us how to be poor in truth and in spirit.

He was born on a lowly manger. When even the sparrow has found a home and the swallow, a nest to place its young, He could not find any hole where to lay His head on (Ps 84:1). He cured the sick, He raised up the dead. Not only did His heart go to the hungry, He filled a multitude of crowd! He also ate with the marginalized—to the disdain of the hypocrites. And when His time was up, He totally abandoned Himself to the Father.

When I was younger, I worried myself not to acquire goods that will attract the attention of others. This was my commitment to live poor, as I professed it.

But Jesus’ example of poverty, I would realize, goes beyond the superficial.

Poverty is finding personal enrichment in privation, it is about finding contentment and happiness in simple things, and in one’s availability for the ministry. It is about one’s capacity to be one with those who are in need and to cultivate generosity in one’s heart so that communitarian sharing is made possible.

Comparing myself with my contemporary who have chosen the life outside, I must say that they have achieved such a feat to begin a family of their own, to have built their nice home, to have bought their flashy cars. I do not have any of those. But I am not feeling empty.

This life of poverty that I lead is also, I realize, a gift in itself. It has taught me to open myself to the surprises of everyday, to be liberated from the instinct of possessing, to grow by losing and leaving, and letting go.

So that when that time comes when God beckons on me to return to His embrace, it would be a cinch to let go of all these so that I may be able to completely embrace Him.



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