How important it is to live a Christian and religious existence without getting lost in disputes and gossip, cultivating a serene dialogue with all, with meekness, mildness and humility, with poor means, proclaiming peace and living soberly, content with what is offered to us! This also requires a determined commitment to transparency, to the ethical and solidaristic use of goods, to a style of sobriety and spoliation. If, instead, you are attached to the goods and riches of the world, and place your security there, it will be the Lord Himself who will strip you of this spirit of worldliness in order to preserve the precious patrimony of minority and poverty to which He has called you through Saint Francis. Either you are freely poor and minor, or you will end up being stripped.
Minority calls to be and feel oneself little before God, entrusting oneself totally to his infinite mercy. The prospect of mercy is incomprehensible for all those who do not recognize themselves as “minors,” that is, little ones, needy and sinful before God. The more aware we are of this, the closer we are to salvation; the more we are convinced that we are sinners, the more we are disposed to be saved. It happens thus in the Gospel: The persons who recognize themselves poor before Jesus are saved; instead one who thinks he has no need does not receive salvation, not because it is not offered to him, but because he has not received it. Minority also means to come out of oneself, of one’s schemes and personal views; it means to go beyond the structures — which are also useful if used wisely –, to go beyond habits and securities, to witness concrete closeness to the poor, to the needy, to the marginalized in a genuine attitude of sharing and service.
This is why humility, spiritual poverty, is so precious: it locates our identity securely in the one place where it will be safe from all harm. If our treasure is in God, no one can take it from us. Humility is truth. I am what I am in God’s eyes: a poor child who possesses absolutely nothing, who receives everything, infinitely loved and totally free.
Together with Pope Francis, we [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][the Order of Friars Minor] are called to preach the Gospel by “going out” into the world. Like Jesus and Francis, we are called to minister to the widows, the orphans, the aliens and the lepers of our day. We must continue to open ourselves to the world of the 21st century, to hear the cries of the people, and to struggle with them to confront the social, economic and environmental crises that we are facing.
I was moved with contrition as with a strong agony, for I had been one of those who had endured that these things should be. I had been one of those who, well knowing that they were, had not desired to hear or be compelled to think much of them, but had gone on as if they were not, seeking my own pleasure and profit. Therefore now I found upon my garments the blood of this great multitude of strangled souls of my brothers. The voice of their blood cried out against me from the ground. Every stone of the reeking pavements, every brick of the pestilential rookeries, found a tongue and called after me as I fled: What hast thou done with thy brother Abel?
The world seeks freedom in the accumulation of possessions and power. It forgets that the only people who are truly free are those who have nothing left to lose. Despoiled of everything, detached from everything, they are “free from all men” (1 Corinthians 9:19) and all things. It can be truly said that their death is already behind them, because all their “treasure” is now in God and in him alone. The people who are supremely free desire nothing and are afraid of nothing. All the good that matters to them is already guaranteed them by God. They have nothing to lose and nothing to defend. These are the “poor in spirit” of the Beatitudes, detached, humble, merciful, meek, peacemakers.
You ask how you can live a life of poverty while in the world? Well, if you can let go enough of self so that the life of God may live in you — so that you can truly belong to Him, you will be exercising the highest poverty. You will also be living out the promise of obedience by quieting your own voice enough to be able to hear what the Lord has in store for you.
Clare, like Francis, did not choose poverty for philosophical reasons, nor for practical ones, as a choice making her life more productive or efficient. And neither of them speak about this poverty as a response to the affluence of Church or society in their day, though it was undoubtedly seen by others in that way. The focus of their attention was God’s overwhelming generosity and love, expressed in the free choice of the Son to embrace poverty in becoming a creature. The two disciples from Assisi embraced poverty because it was embraced by their Beloved.
This is what we might call the missionary vocation of the Franciscan way of life. Emerging from a commitment to follow in “the teaching and footprints of Jesus Christ,” this is a disposition that orients the believer outward and toward others as opposed to inward and focused on the self. Like Jesus in the Gospels, Francis saw an inherent value in not acquiring the security and comfort afforded by the appropriation of property, resources, and status.
Unlike service work or charity (as popularly conceived), solidarity requires “specific action, a style of life, a break with one’s social class.” It is perhaps unreasonable to expect most Christians to so radically adopt a position of solidarity and a life of evangelical poverty in short order, but it is not beyond their capacity to begin to reimagine what a morally just and particularly Christian life might look like and then work in ways to make that commitment an ever-more concrete reality.