By Frank Summers
Jesus preached truths that some have called, “the classical impracticalities of the Gospel”: turn the other cheek; don’t judge others; love your enemies and forgive their offenses against you (7 x 70, each day); give to all who ask from you; go to the ends of the earth (take almost nothing for the journey)…. And then there’s GOSPEL POVERTY!
In FMC we hope to live all of Jesus’ teachings, as best we can; and we accept the call to live Gospel Poverty:
Blessed are you poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God. * * *
But woe to you that are rich, for you have received your consolation. (Luke 6: 20b, 24)
I tell you, do not be anxious about your life…. Look at the birds of the air…. Consider the lilies of the field…. O men of little faith… do not be anxious…. the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all other things will be yours as well. (Matthew 6:25, 28b, 30b, 32-33.)
Give us this day our daily bread. (Lord’s Prayer)
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want; he makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside still waters; He restores my soul…. Thou preparest a table before me…my cup overflows. (Psalm 23:1-2, 5)
Speaking to a multitude, a crowd of thousands, Jesus said:
Take heed, and beware of all covetousness; for a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.* * *
Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them.* * *
Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give alms; provide yourselves with purses that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches. For where your treasure is, there will you heart be also. (Luke 12:1, 24, 32-35.)
Yes, we are the Lord’s little missionary flock. He blesses us with a wonderful freedom to live and go about trusting Him for everything, as we leave everything and give everything in His service. He meets all our needs – we ask, but He knows even before we ask.
Catholic laity are expected to be “free from the slavery of riches” and to “ exert all their energies in extending God’s kingdom” – the Lord “enables lay people to express concretely in their lives the spirit of the Beatitudes,” to “ follow in [Jesus’] poverty…not greedy for vain show…always ready to abandon everything for Christ.” (Vat. II, Decree on the Apostolate of Lay People, n. 4).
We are all called to “a more austere way of life” (JP II, Mission of the Redeemer, 59):
But as materialism under various guises is today spreading far and wide, even among Catholics, the laity should not only make a careful study of Catholic doctrine… but should confront materialism of every type with the witness of evangelical life. (Vat. II, Decree on the Apostolate of Lay People, 31.)
People today put more trust in witnesses than in teachers, in experience than in teaching, an in life and action than in theories. The witness of a Christian life is the first and irreplaceable form of mission.
The first form of witness is the very life of the missionary, of the Christian family, and of the ecclesial community, which reveal a new way of living. The missionary who despite all his or her human limitations and defects, lives a simple life, taking Christ as the model, is a sign of God and of transcendent realities. (JP II, Mission of the Redeemer, 42.)
Our Father cares for His birds – but the birds are not just sitting around doing nothing – they’re not lazy – they are diligent in doing what the Father has given them to do. Yes, we will work very hard and be responsible for all the Lord has entrusted to us. At the same time, the Lord offers all of us the freedom to trust Him for everything. Our goal is not the accumulation of wealth and rich living.
The grace to live Gospel Poverty is there, will you accept it? “Blessed are you poor.”