12-2017 Charism of the Month (Poverty)
Saint Francis of Assisi Church
The word “poverty” often instills fear in our hearts. We know that Saint Francis of Assisi, our Parish Patron Saint, gave up everything he owned and lived with not even the barest of essentials. If we claim to follow his example and live his charisms, are we called to do the same?
Some may be “called” to that life but not everyone is “called” to the same Ministry ... “Saint Francis Poverty” is not so much deprivation but rather realizing our dependence on God who loves us.
Saint Francis Poverty includes both “material and spiritual” poverty. Now, as has been true throughout the ages, we live in the midst of unrestrained materialism. Saint Francis encourages us to place our focus on Christ and to serve his people (especially those in need). When our focus is on more money, more things and more power etc., our time and energy is spent in acquisition of or protection of what we have and we no longer have time and energy for Christ or for his people. How much time do you have for Christ?
Saint Francis Poverty also means to surrender to God’s will. We say “Thy will be done” but we are often praying for “our will” to be granted.
Saint Francis believed that everything we have belongs to God; it originates from God and will return to God. We are only “caretakers” of our lives and creation. When we look around, we don’t seem to be doing such a great job. We have not cared for the earth and all of her gifts, we often do not care for our own bodies and we neglect the needs of the poor around us and those of developing nations. How can we be better caretakers?
In His complete embrace of poverty, Jesus Christ becomes poverty. Jesus was born in a humble stable, into a poor family. Humble shepherds were the first witnesses to this event. In this poverty, heaven’s glory was made manifest. He identifies with the poor, saying, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me” (Matthew 25:45). The Lord asks us to love as He does…and to love the poor as Christ Himself. We are to serve the poor and suffering, in whom the Church recognizes the image of her poor and suffering founder. Jesus teaches that all people, even the poorest of the poor, are worthy of respect and are worthy of love. If we are to love and follow Jesus Christ, we must love the poverty of Jesus Christ and we must love those whom Jesus Christ loved: the poor.
Jesus gave us the perfect example of poverty. He became a human being for us and then offered himself on the cross. He then continues to offer himself to us in the Eucharist.
“The Eucharist and poverty for Saint Francis are two parts of the same thing,” said Fr. Thompson, author of the 2012 book “Francis of Assisi: A New Biography.” While believing in service to the lowest of the poor, Saint Francis also “sees the Eucharist as worthy of the utmost respect, as it is itself the greatest act of humility and poverty when God gives himself as food to ordinary people.”