“No one can live without delight and that is why man, deprived of spiritual joy, goes over to fleshly pleasures” (Thomas Aquinas). Our reliance on other persons and attachment to worldly possessions in this hedonistic culture is quite normal. For some, a car is a wife for others, computers, cell phones, friends and financial security and so on and so on. I have trusted him/her like a mountain but he/she has abandoned, betrayed me… these are the desperations and cries of today’s lives. In this context, possessions lead to attachment which leads to greediness and a grabbing mentality.
Instead of relying on material security, we should rely on God and in His Providence and thus we become voluntarily poor like St. Francis of Assisi who said “My God and my all” which was his prayer. In the life of Jesus, He identified Himself with the poor and His lifestyle had no security, comfort, permanent house, and He was even buried in a borrowed grave. The followers of Jesus also left everything- nets, boats, hired servants, tax office, etc.
“Give what you have to the poor” and “poverty depends on Charity “says our father of the poor St. Guanella. His eyes were able to see Jesus in the poor, “the most abandoned of all, bring him in, sit him at your table and make him yours, because he is Jesus”. Fr. Guanella warned the religious “let the two sins against providence be avoided “spending uselessly and refusing ourselves what is necessary for food, clothing and health. Our founder underwent umpteen sufferings, miscomprehensions, the FOUR F’S (fame-hungry, freddo-cold, fumo-smoke, fastidi-adversity) He always encourages us to love poverty, love the cross, and embrace penances and thus we can ascend the ladder of perfection.
Our Holy Father’s Lenten message is an eye opener to make an examination of conscience on a life of evangelical poverty in three types (of destitution): material, moral and spiritual and show our ‘Diaconia’ in meeting the needs of the poorest and alleviate the poverty with compassion, tenderness and solidarity of His love. Lent is a fitting time for self-denial in order to enrich others by our own poverty and solidarity. The recent Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India also urged us to become an example of simplicity, transparency, justice and mercy in a society polluted by corruption and violence.
St. Joseph loved poverty and suffered the privation of life with patience and without murmur or complaint! He is a model of patience and was full of the virtue of humility and, with a righteous attitude, obeyed the plan of God. May he bless each one of us to be generous through our personal and community poverty!