Grace to you!
From Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen’s book, The Cross and the Beatitudes,I read the following beautiful story:
“Some years ago when the Cloister of a Carmelite convent was broken by a Cardinal and opened to the public, a good Carmelite nun was showing a visiting priest through the convent. From the roof of it, one could look over a valley and on to an opposite hill, where there stood a large and beautiful home that seemed to stand as a symbol for all that was sweet, and beautiful and lovely in life.
Recalling the economic poverty of this poor nun, the visitor said to her, “Sister, just suppose that before you entered Carmel, you could have lived in that home. Suppose that you could have had all the wealth, refinement, and opportunities for worldly enjoyment that such a home would give you. Would you have left that house to have become a poor Carmelite?”
And she answered, pointing to the huge and beautiful home; “Father, that is my house!”
The Carmelite nun came from a wealthy home. She had seen it all. She left the castle and other inheritance for the convent. She chose to be detached. A better example of such heroic detachment and poverty of spirit is rarely found.
I am not advocating that those who have good homes or lots of money leave them to become monks and nuns. God calls us differently. Rather, the above story debunks the prejudice in the minds of many.
Have you heard those arguments that people who are religious are laid back, or that they are so because they are not exposed or wealthy enough to see the light? Or that people become priests or professed religious because they couldn’t and wouldn’t fit in the corporate world?
The funniest I hear from time to time is that there is vocation boom in third world countries because of poverty. To date, no statistics have proven these to be the case, and it would be wrong to make such generalizations.
Many of the most devout priests and professed religious I know are people from wealthy homes. Many of them, too, could match the beauty of models or the intelligence of geniuses. Surprisingly, many devout believers are people who are intelligent and also financially comfortable.
People are wealthy in many ways—money, beauty, intelligence, knowledge, connections and relationships, talents, wisdom and uncountable spiritual wealth and character. Wealth could be from the spiritual to the fiscal and many things in-between. A state of poverty wouldn’t seem to me as referring only to fiscal poverty. It applies to all of the above and many other attributes. Fiscal poverty is simply a piece of the puzzle.
The Lord Jesus advocates for poverty of spirit (Lk 6:20). How about we look at poverty of spirit in the light of knowledge? It’s become more known that many people who are blessed with intelligence and a good knowledge base tend to ignore the call for poverty of spirit.
Would it help those who belong to the academia and those who assume they are the smartest, to know they are knowledgeable only about a very tiny aspect of human life?
The blessing of the poverty of spirit is like the nun in our above story. Though the poor in spirit may have a wealth of knowledge, they may be strikingly beautiful, financially buoyant or have all the connections in the world; they are so detached that they see themselves as mere messengers.
The blessings of spiritual poverty grow out of having a place for God and having a good space for my neighbor. When our wealth—no matter what type—is placed where it belongs, then shall we become VIPs of heaven’s sumptuous banquet.
No blessings beat the one from above, the one God pours on the lap of the beloved, those poor in spirit, while they slumber. Jesus declares: “Blessed are you poor [the Gospel of Matthew adds “in spirit”], for yours is the kingdom of God” (Lk 6:20).
Praying for the grace of detachment. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Wednesday Week 23 Ordinary Time A: Col 3:1-11; Lk 6:20-26]
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.