HE will carry us – living spiritual poverty


I was recently walking with a young mom and her 18 month-old toddler, Annalise, who began dragging her feet. A few blocks later, she looked up at me with her big pleading eyes and raised her arms up as if to say, “carry me.” Without batting an eyelash I reached down and scooped her up. Who could resist? Her littleness and trusting confidence witnessed to me the ideal of spiritual poverty.

We go to the Father with our arms outstretched knowing that we are little – this is what it means to be poor in spirit.

When we profess the vow of poverty, we declare that the Lord of life is our lasting treasure, our only need of mind and heart. We commit to fashion ourselves after Jesus, who became poor. In material poverty we radically free ourselves from earthly possessions in order that Jesus reign in us. The presupposition of this material poverty, however, is a spiritual poverty – knowing our lack, our weakness, our emptiness, our littleness, our poverty, yet standing in awe before the gratuitous love and benevolence of God, trusting that He will sustain us. With this interior disposition of heart we are free to go to the Father in utter dependence like a child, like Annalise with arms outstretched knowing that He will carry us.

God loves littleness. He Himself became little. In the Gospel, Jesus says, “Unless you acquire the heart of a child you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven…” The Lord brought this ideal to perfection – and he tells us to learn from Him, for He is meek and humble of heart. His heart is like the heart of a child, trusting and confident in the Father’s love.

When we live this way, as one poor in spirit we make a gradual identification with the attitude of Christ to the Father. This is not only foundational for material poverty, but to authentically live the Christian life.

Annalise reminded me to go before the Father as a child, His child – little and beloved and completely dependent on Him, confident in His love and mercy that He will carry us because we are His. There is an absence of self-sufficiency and pride. He Himself says, “Let the little ones come unto me…”

The one who is poor in spirit sees himself, says Father Raniero Cantelemessa, “as totally dependent on God for everything, and can only relate to God as a debtor, in a spirit of pure gratitude.” He continues,

“Humility and trust in God, the two essential elements of this ideal of spiritual poverty, are marvelously joined in what is known as the psalm of spiritual childhood.”

One who is poor in spirit receives all as gift from God and in return is completely given. Those poor in spirit do not seek to take possession of reality, but rather receive it as Providence and engage it with a spirit of love.

When we live this way our hearts are filled with gratitude and we discover that in Him we are truly rich. May we go before the Father with arms outstretched trusting in His never failing love.

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