Wednesday, May 13, 2020




It came as somewhat of a shock to realize I have not worked on this commentary since the feast of St. Joseph, spending so much time focused on the Covid 19 Hope essays! However, that is actually part of living out selling all you possess and to: Give it directly, personally to the poor. [1]

While time is a gift given to us, and not per se something we possess, by and large we do control how we use the time gifted to us.

Helping one another in these dark days is both true charity and dispossession, the giving directly to the poor and everyone, in various ways, not all of them economic, is vitally important.

Some people, mostly unknown to us, do choose to sell or give away everything they possess and embrace a life of total poverty such as the ancient mendicants, and modern mendicants, continue to do so. Not only within Christianity but in other religions as well.

While St. Francis and his companions started out that way the expansion of their vocation from itinerant preachers to pastors of parishes, and other works, means more communal living and possessing what is necessary for their apostolate. St. Mother Teresa’s Sisters, Brothers and Priests live a stricter poverty, as do the men, women, and priests of Madonna House. Again, it is a matter of the particular vocation and apostolate.

Each of us who live other vocations, such as in Holy Marriage, as parents with children, consecrated men and women virgins living in the world, hermits, etc., need also to stand humbly before the Holy Spirit asking Him, as He will, to enlighten us how to be dispossessed, to give what we do possess directly, personally to the poor. Here too the guidance of a priest-spiritual director will help ensure that, for example as parents, we do not deprive the family of what is necessary.

Satan, if he cannot seduce us with obvious evil will use another pernicious tactic, that of seducing us with what appears to be a good, extreme dispossession: selling/giving away so much that we impoverish our family or are no longer able to properly care for our own lives.

The key is to understand the difference between need and want. I need good food to eat. I may want the best filet mignon several times a week, rather than say fish or less expensive cuts of meat. By ‘selling’ my want and embracing the selflessness of need, the difference in money saved becomes a gift I can give directly to the poor such as by keeping a few dollars in my pocket so I don’t pass by my homeless brother or sister begging for help but can give them, thus giving to Christ Himself, what I have.

Material dispossession and material generosity are comparatively easy next to cooperating with the Most Holy Spirit to be dispossessed of the false self, the self that strives to always be the center of attention, have the last word, have one’s opinions dominate conversations, the false self which seeks the first place in every aspect of life, is more interested in being loved and accepted than loving and accepting etc., and etc.! Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after Me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.” [Mt.16:24ff] “…..everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be My disciple.” [Lk. 14:33]

To deny the self is to deny the false self, the egocentric self, the self who, if we be brutally honest, often acts, thinks, as if smarter than God. It is these possessions we truly need to be unburdened of, for they are the chains that bind us, weigh us down, keep a wall we build brick by brick between ourselves and God who is love. It is to sink more and more into the quagmire of a aloneness which destroys marriages, alienates parents from children, citizens/neighbours from one another and on the grand scale breeds hatreds, discriminations, conflicts/wars between nations. Only when we dwell within union with His Most Sacred Heart will we become poor as He became poor for us and then be able to see self and other as He sees us and love one another accordingly: “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy, and My burden light.” [Mt.11:29] “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” [Jn.13:34] “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength…..You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” [Mk.12:30,31]

“What then is it that we have to bring to the poor? First, it seems to me, the realization that we are the poorest of the poor. Secondly, a realization that unless we truly love ourselves, we cannot even begin to love our neighbours…..Among the ways of loving ourselves is this acceptance of our poverty which acknowledges that we are totally dependent on God, and which acts, therefore, always according to His will. But to act according to God’s will, one must empty oneself of all self-centredness, selfishness, egotism. Positively, one must have a listening heart that is free, poor, one that listens to the quiet voice of God and follows it.” [2]




[2] The Gospel Without Compromise, pp.101 & 106; Catherine de Hueck Doherty, 1989, Madonna House Publications.


© 2020 Fr. Arthur Joseph






No comments: