Friday, May 07, 2010

Precious poverty…

Above all else St. Francis stands for a certain kind of love, a love that empties itself, a love that is so secure that it can be poor. It can let go of its reputation, securities, comforts, and money; because it has found its riches and comforts on another level.

In every age, Francis will be called the little poor man (“IL Poverello”). He was free enough to walk out of the system of rewards, status and security in 13th Century Italy.  He changed sides intentionally.  I remember when my novice master in 1961 told us, almost whispering, “We really are communists!’’  Francis named our community “the brothers of the lower class” (friars minor). Today we call that making a “preferential option for the poor,” and people think it is something new and dangerous.

Richard Rohr, adapted from Radical Grace: Daily Meditations, p. 275, day 286

Francis was right. Our poverty, our willingness to go without “reputation, securities, comforts, and money” really is our most precious possession in this world. With this power at our disposal, we are invincible, though the world might see us as pitiably insignificant. We are like Christ on the road to the Cross, or like St. Paul, when he wrote:

I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me… (Philippians 4.11-13)

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