One biblical description of poverty is simplicity. People poor in this way are centred in chosen values instead of possessions. And because their life is so centred in clear values—usually God, family, and physical work—they normally don't need to compensate by spending their afternoons in shopping malls, buying more things, or filling up their boredom with distractions.
Few things are needed or desired by the one who lives simply because life is centred on another level of value. And maybe it isn't always specifically religious; maybe it's music, art, nature, volunteerism, or working for a great ideal.
This is one of the best expressions I’ve encountered of the very practical call to simplicity that many of us seem to stumble across on the way, if we seek to follow Francis on the way of the Cross. As Rohr points out, it isn’t in itself specifically Franciscan; it isn’t even specifically Christian, though as many artists, writers, and maybe particularly musicians have discovered over the years, it’s a hard road without a lived and passionate faith to strengthen you…
Brother Ramon SSF says (Franciscan Spirituality, p. 68):
In the Church… we are confronted by the fearful and blazing light of Francis. We can either turn away like the rich young man faced by Jesus’ radical demand, or allow the Franciscan light to dispel our avaricious darkness…
It was not that Francis was a social reformer or an ideological politician warning what love of money would do to the fabric of our society. Rather, he was a follower of Jesus who saw what it would do to spiritual awareness and sensitivity.
The compulsive worship of capital leads the individual and society to a denial of the compassion that relinquishes more than is necessary and shares in simplicity.
It is all there in the gospel. Jesus preached and lived such radical simplicity clearly, and Francis showed it could be done. But no doubt we shall find ways to evade them both!
Br. Ramon has put his finger on it. The Franciscan, the gospel, call to simplicity is not all call to change society—how could it be?—but a call to rescue ourselves from the sinking ship, to put put out the call to everyone we meet, “Save yourselves!”