Christian poverty

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

“IT will be hard for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of heaven. Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God.” (Mt 19,23)

For sure, everytime we read these words of Christ, we can have the same reaction as his disciples had. “Who then can be saved?” To which, Christ answered, “For men this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.”

We need to understand this message from Christ well, especially nowadays when there are many indications we are not living this Christian spirit of poverty. Many of us are trapped with their perishable treasures on earth when the real treasure is in heaven.

The big problem of the rich of this world is his attachment to his wealth such that he cannot give himself fully to God. He may give the appearance that he is giving a lot, but if it is not the whole of himself, then it is not total self-giving which God deserves and expects from each one of us.

Let us always remember that God wants the whole of ourselves. He wants our entire heart, not a divided heart. He wants to be everything to us, the first and the last, the Alpha and the Omega. He wants to be given priority over everything else, including our own life.

This is not selfishness on his part, an act of ego-tripping. It is simply in recognition of the basic truth that everything, including our life, comes from him and also belongs to him. We have no right whatsoever to expropriate as our own what actually comes and belongs to God.

We need to understand that our intelligence and will, our freedom and rights that enable us to be and to do what we want, and to be rich in many ways, also come from God and belong to him. They can only be properly exercised when used in accord with God’s will and ways.

And to be rich here does not mean only those with a lot of money and resources. It can mean those who are well-endowed in the other aspects of life—power, fame, health, intelligence, luck, etc.

We need to remind ourselves constantly that even if we can say we are the owners of such wealth, resources, talents, power, fame, and indeed of our whole life, we actually are at best only stewards who have to give account to the absolute owner and source of all these things that we possess.

Our total self-giving to God and to others is when we start entering the supernatural character that our life possesses, since we are the very image and likeness of God, children of his, meant to share in God’s very life that obviously is supernatural.

We are not meant to live a purely natural life. There is no such thing. Our nature opens us to make a choice between a supernatural life with God or an infranatural life. But make no mistake. Our supernatural life with God does not eliminate or suppress what is natural in us. What it does is to purify and elevate to the supernatural order what is natural in us. Christian poverty actually enriches us. That’s when we achieve our human and Christian perfection!