Saturday, July 17, 2010

Poverty in this world

"We spend money we don't have on things we don't need to create impressions that won't last on people we don't care about." – Tim Jackson, Prof. Of Sustainable Development, University of Surrey

Professor Jackson certainly has our culture pegged.

I am a product of this culture as much as anyone; being a Franciscan certainly doesn't make me immune to the thrill of excess. I want that new car, the dormer on my house, the prestigious job, more money in the bank to do with what I choose, more ridiculously rich food to shovel down my throat. We're all susceptible to clever advertising, telling us all those things we MUST have..."RIGHT NOW! FOR ONLY 47 EASY PAYMENTS OF $19.99...but WAIT! There's STILL more!!!!"

Part of the Franciscan charism is living in the spirit of evangelical poverty. I had a problem with that when I started my inquiry into the Secular Franciscan Order. Was I supposed to sell my home, live with my family in a tent with sackcloth and ashes, giving every scrap of money or food I was coming across to people who were poor through no choice of their own? No, of course not. The spirit of evangelical poverty does not forbid ownership of goods; it does not frown upon the well-to-do or wealthy either, I was surprised to learn. True evangelical poverty teaches us gratitude, to use goods without being "owned" by them. Poverty reminds us that we are merely temporary stewards of this world, and if we are lucky enough to live comfortably, we ought to share joyfully and without complaint. We must be so grateful for what we have that we can't help but share it with those who don't.

That being said, I have a long way to go. I LIKE my stuff, and I like getting more stuff, a lot of times simply for the sake of having it. And that's OK. Because it allllll about the journey.

Daily Mass Readings
Micah 2:1-5
Psalm 10:1-4,7-8,14
Matthew 12:14-21