Poverty is the space where God can enrich you.
In today’s Gospel, we see the Lord sending out the apostles in poverty. He sends them in this way in order that their riches would be God, and in that God could then work powerfully through them.
There are several types of poverty. Some we choose, some we do not, but we can choose to the make the best out of them either way. Sometimes we are not aware of what our own poverty is, and so we do not know how to become rich.
Some definitions of poverty:
• Conditions where people's basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter are not being met.
• The state of being inferior in quality or insufficient in amount.
• Being poor by comparison.
Types of Poverty:
• Material poverty - those who are lacking the necessity of physical life
• Emotional Poverty - those whose emotional needs aren’t being met (love, forgiveness, woundedness, hardness of heart, isolation, lack of will power, emotional disability)
• Physical Poverty - those who are unable to help themselves through sickness and/or disability
• Spiritual Poverty – those who are not receiving what their soul needs to be healthy (sin, acedia, sloth for the spiritual things)
• A Religious Vow – those who choose poverty for the sake of the Kingdom of God.
Material poverty is around for certain, though it is not as prevalent here in Canada. In Canada, material poverty is more on the lines that we don’t have as much as others do. Nevertheless, there are people that do not have what they need to survive and we are called in justice to help them for sure. It is important when we help them that we do it for the Lord because it is easy to get jaded, especially if you are wondering what you are going to get out of it. We you feel slighted it is important to say, “Jesus I trust in you.” It is important especially when we have means, to trust in God for our material wellbeing. We should give a portion of our income as a way of trusting in God. The Old Testament recommends the tithe, which is ten percent of our income to God. The New Testament doesn’t speak of the tithe specifically, however it does say that there was not a member in need and that people gave away all they had. If we want to get riches from God we must put our trust in Him. Yes it does seem like a lot to follow the Old Testament tithe, but I guarantee God is good and trust worthy. He sent His apostles off today with nothing and they testified that they had everything and more. At times our trust in God is so poor that it is a greater poverty than actually poverty. We are so afraid that God can’t provide. Even in our Catholic our fundraisers we almost try to trick people into giving. We have fifty/fifty draws, or bingo, or sell raffle tickets so you may get a prize for giving or sometimes people won’t give unless there is a charitable tax donation receipt offered. It is like we do not believe that the God who gave us everything is good enough to reward us. He is, my brothers and sister, and we can trust Him who laid down His life for us. We are so scared that there is not enough, but why? When we choose poverty then God can bless us and look after our needs. Mother Angelica once had a delivery man at the door with a bill for $600,000, which she had no money to pay for. She ran to the chapel and told God and then she left the Chapel to take a phone call, which happened to be from a man who wanted to donate $600,000 to her cause. Mother Theresa often said “God has lots of money.” Every saint and person who follows God has story after story how God is good. I could give you so many examples from my own life, and I am not a saint, about how God loves me and looks after me. God loves you as much as He loves me. He can provide and He does provide if you give Him a chance.
Many times material poverty is confused for emotional poverty. With the down trodden often nobody cares about them and we find it is easier to give some thing rather than ourselves. By this, we are showing our own emotional poverty. We don’t have anything to give because we are not rich in this area. It is amazing how people are seemingly not important anymore. Why is it that we do we not reach out and get to know our brothers and sister here? We are wrapped up in the lives of others on TV and internet personalities, the people scandals, their babies, their new fling, the royal family, their surgery, their drug addiction - and that is all a fantasy. Yet how much do you know about the person next to you? Real people, people we are called to love and serve. Isn’t this a huge emotional poverty that we have? It should at least concern us that we do not even care about those we share the same Body and Blood with. Can you imagine if we had a deep love and concern for each other here? People would want to invite others into this loving family. I find myself often thinking “What do you want, and how can I solve this so I can get back to my life quickly?” I don’t have time because I am poor. I have met people who are rich in this area. Fr Martin seems to be rich in time and our Bishop is also a man who is rich in time. They run parishes and the diocese yet they always seem to have time. St Pope John Paul II was like that too. It was said he never hurried anyone away. I remember talking to a retired bishop and he would just sit there listening to me. I was scandalized by his care and concern, that he had time and it was only for me. He was rich, I am still poor. I have lots of reasons why I am so busy, trying to do important things, running around trying to satisfy instead of the rich moment that is being presented to me. Perhaps I approach the situation deciding beforehand what I will get out of it, rather than being open to what I will receive. It is almost like being lost. I have heard when some people get lost they panic and start running in an attempt to cover more ground in hopes of finding their way, yet they end up more lost. The riches of human life and relationship are right in front of us and we need not run like the lost man to cover more ground but rather to embrace the riches that are right here.
Physical poverty is when can’t do what we want to do through some sort of physical limitation, such as illness or injury. This can be extremely frustrating, yet our salvation lies in finding the riches right where we are. Perhaps we are to offer up the suffering for those around us. We can choose to have a rich experience where ever we are. If we have decided what can make us happy we will miss out of letting God be our riches instead. Trusting God can make us joyful and fulfilled in the present moment. This week at his concert, Joe Zambon told us a story about when he almost lost his voice, which would not have been good because he is an amazing singer and song writer and he does it for God’s glory. Last summer he lost his voice and he was in a crisis because his identity was so tied to his ability to sing. Yet he said, peace came when he said “Blessed be God even if I can never sing.” God is good even in our greatest poverty. His plan is better. We can be like the man on a deserted island, who prayed each day to be rescued. One day while out praying his shack and all his belongings burnt down. He was so angry at God, wondering how he would ever survive when a ship pulled up and rescued him. They told him they saw his signal fire and came to investigate.
Spiritual poverty is by far the worst poverty though and by now it seems clear that there is one thing that ties all poverty together no matter the type. It is trust in God that brings riches. Acknowledging that we can’t do it alone, and that we can’t save ourselves, only God can do that. We are spiritually poor when we do not trust.
The Lord sends forth people that would not be considered competent to bring the message of faith. He sends them out without the knowledge, without the power of authority, without money, without anything extra - all they had was God Himself. We cannot meet God or work with God from a position of riches because then we think we are equal with God and we give him a token of ourselves instead of our whole self. God sends His people out without means so that He can be their means.
"Do you know, daughter, who you are and who I am? If you know these two things you will have beatitude within your grasp. You are she who is not, and I AM HE WHO IS." Raymond of Capua, Life of Catherine of Siena, 92