Jesus teaches the way of poverty, and he lived it. He says clearly that we must renounce all of our possessions. But he goes further and says that we must even renounce our relationships and our very selves as well. Why? Probably because we have done these things so poorly in the past, and these unhealthy patterns have become so ingrained that only complete renunciation will allow us to break free. Jesus on the cross is the ultimate example of poverty. It was there that he gave up not only possessions and relationships but also his very life. He not only taught the way of the cross, the way of poverty, but he actually became that way.
Anyone who says that cooperating with God to become holy isn’t hard is a liar. I’ll tell them that to their face. Looking at your crap and changing it out of love for God is not supposed to be easy. It is supposed to cost us something, it cost God His son. Look at a crucifix and tell me that somehow we are supposed to get off easy. We aren’t. We make our choices, we choose our sins, we give in to them knowing that they are wrong and then we expect what? To give our lives to Christ and POOF, magic Jesus just fixes us? What would we learn from that? Nothing. The way that we learn is by facing our sins, ugly as they are and seeing what destruction they have caused and then ridding our lives of them. That is not easy, it is hard. Staying the same is easy. I’ll say it again, anyone who says that it is easy is a liar, Jesus didn’t call it dying to yourself for nothing.
In essence, whether intentional or not, Francis’s movement from a place of power, wealth, and security to a social location of vulnerability and minority reflected the kenotic character of God becoming human in the Incarnation. It was a self-emptying that made possible the condition for solidarity, as opposed to service from another social, economic, and cultural place.