Friday, March 21, 2014

Afternoon meditation: Lenten Fridays with Francis--on a Monday

This was supposed to be posted last week! Oh, well. Now it's a Monday with Pope Francis...

Part of a continuing reflection on Pope Francis' Lenten Message 2014.

In the middle of his Lenten message, Pope Francis shifts gears. The first part was an extended meditation on the "Good News" poverty of Jesus: the revelation of God as Father, seen in the Incarnation, the Baptism of the Lord, and the image of the Good Samaritan. Now Pope Francis turns and looks at us.

"We might think that this 'way' of poverty [the way of "going out" from oneself to share the riches of being with the needy] was Jesus' way, whereas we who come after him can save the world with the right kind of human resources. This is not the case."

That one line pretty much nails it for me. The lack of "the right kind of human resources" will never be an impediment to God's work. Pope Francis comments further, "God's wealth passes not through our wealth, but invariably and exclusively through our personal and communal poverty enlivened by the Spirit of Christ."

Dorothy Day knew that. She wrote in her diary about a time when the Catholic Worker desperately
Dorothy Day, two years after
the founding of the Catholic
Worker (Library of Congress)
needed $200; it may have been for rent. Dorothy was determined that the Worker, placed under the protection of St Joseph, would live only of Divine Providence. She was very happy to receive a donation for $20, but when a needy person came seeking assistance (quite possibly for their rent!), she handed the money over. $20 wasn't going to cover what the Catholic Worker needed anyway. Sure enough, Divine Providence came through (perhaps at the last possible moment).

The saints rejoiced to find themselves (in the words of a prayer by Blessed James Alberione) "weak, ignorant, incapable and inadequate." Years ago my Dad found that line in my Pauline Manual of Prayers. "Boy," he remarked, "saying that every day will keep you humble!" But for Alberione and others of his spiritual stature, those words were not a form of self-humiliation but a source of deep joy. Having been called to a mission that surpasses our human resources, they knew that their poverty "in all things" (Alberione put that in the prayer, too) marked the place where God could fully and freely act. St. Paul's boast comes again to mind, "When I am weak, then I am strong!"

Can you name a place of "personal and communal poverty" where God was able to work apart from all the more likely human resources? Has this Lent opened your eyes to a new form of poverty that God is inviting you to place at his disposition?

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