To Glory in Our Poverty

Come Father of the Poor

Come Giver of all gifts

The Holy Spirit prayer that we are meditating on in these months leads us to contemplate profound realities of both God’s identity and our identity. He is Father and we are poor. While being poor is naturally repugnant to us, we discover that it need not be so. We are invited to embrace poverty just as much, and as eagerly as, we embrace the gifts that the Giver has to bestow. If we forget who the giver is and look only at the gifts then we will miss the most important part. So, let us first look at why it is necessary that we not only realize that we are poor but that we glory in being poor.

What do I mean by ‘we are poor’? Let’s be honest, most readers of this meditation are probably reading from a device that costs anywhere from $100-$1,000. When we think about our next meal we do not usually think about if we are going to eat, but what we are going to eat. After the tragic events that have unfolded in Turkey, Siria, and Ukraine, how can one of us from the United States make the claim of being poor? However, no matter the scope of your wealth, you are fundamentally poor because you are completely dependent. All that you have and are can be traced back to a benefactor. You did not choose to exist, yet you do: someone created you, gave you life, and holds you in existence. As Christians, we believe that our Creator did not create us out of necessity, but rather love. He sustains us -each breath we take- in love. How profound it is to realize that we are poor!

The embrace of our poverty in this light becomes a wellspring of graces from which we can draw. However, when we do not see ourselves as poor and dependent we will not see ourselves as needing to receive. The weight would seem to be on our shoulders to provide for ourselves and our loved ones, yet if we all lived this way, our life would be a constant rat race, a survival of the fittest. This is not what God intended our life to be. Jesus tells us this: “Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they?” (Matthew 6:26). He wants to feed us! So why is it so hard for us to open ourselves up to receive from our heavenly Father? In the quiet of our hearts each one of us is invited to answer this question. However, if we feel stuck, let us shift our disposition to dependence by invoking the Holy Spirit.

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, “Abba, Father!” The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ…” (Romans 8: 14-17).

The Holy Spirit leads us into a deeper faith where we truly belong to God as sons and daughters who can call him ‘dad’. Children are perfect models of what it means to be dependent. The first years of their lives they can do absolutely nothing on their own and rely only on the mercy of their parents to respond to their needs. Certainly, if they continued this behavior throughout their childhood it would be quite concerning! Yet while children become less dependent for their biological needs, they still are dependent on others for learning and acquiring skills and capabilities. Jesus points to the need for ongoing dependency when He said we must be childlike in order to enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18: 3). A child receives and is thus poor. Does the child know that because they are dependent they are profoundly poor? Probably not; they might not make that connection. But we can. Therefore, we can glory in our poverty, because it makes us sons and daughters of a good Father. Come, Father of the poor.

The next line of the prayer – Come Giver of all gifts – deepens this reality, but we must be attentive to two temptations. One temptation is to ask for gifts so that we do not feel the vulnerability of our poverty. Another temptation is to focus our attention more on what we are given and fail to look at the Giver. The gifts point to an abundant God who calls us to live in abundance. However, true abundance is having a relationship with the Father: “The Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I lack” (Psalm 23).

We can rest in the realization that we are greatly provided for. Jesus has richly blessed us by all He has won for us in allowing us to become adopted sons and daughters of God (Eph 1:3-5). He is Giver and He is Father. We are gifted and we are poor. Our complete dependence on God the Father who sustains us in love is our inheritance and glory.

Concrete Resolution:

  • In prayer, pay attention to your breathing and reflect on how every breath you take is a sign that you are radically dependent on God.
  • Consider the ways the Lord can and desires to provide for you and your loved ones.
  • Invoke the Holy Spirit aid to remind you that you are God’s beloved son or daughter.

 

This month’s meditation is by Sr. Tatum McWhirter, AVI

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