Thursday, October 01, 2020




 When, in the Little Mandate, Jesus says follow Me [1a], this is from the Holy Gospels. We know to follow Him is to go wherever He goes as His disciples, ultimately into the tomb to be taken by Him into Resurrection.

In the Little Mandate He articulates specifically how we are to follow Him: going to the poor, being poor, being one with them, one with Me. [1b]

Teaching the Staff of Madonna House Apostolate about poverty our Foundress, Catherine, has written: …..poverty always goes hand in hand with utter trust in God. [2]

Actual trust in God is an overarching act of faith.

Emotions are both a richness, the high of loving and being loved by God and other, and a frequent descent into the poverty of our powerlessness, particularly in this pandemic.

We are mercurial in the poverty of being creatures, beloved human being creatures with free will who assume, reactively, from God whom we love, depend on, that YES is precisely what we are due, and NO is precisely mean-spirited rejection.

Yet how frequently do we pause after a YES and say thank-You?

It is St. Luke who recounts for us the healing of the ten lepers with only one returning to thank Jesus: St. Luke 17:11-19.

The first instruction in this passage from the Little Mandate is: going to the poor.

Before the pandemic it was, by way of example, a simple thing to do: volunteer in a soup kitchen, visiting the sick in hospital, shut-ins, helping at food banks, etc.

Not so much with the pandemic unless we use loves creativity – like volunteer to sit outside the window of elderly in a care-home, using our cell phones to speak with them; drop off food at the door of the food bank; by phone or using the internet communicate with friends and family who are isolated.

In prayer, being aware in our hearts of the homeless poor, prisoners, people in refugee camps, when can go to them through prayer which is an act of love and compassion.

Being poor, His next word, may pose the question ‘how’?, particularly with the restrictions of movement and person to person contact in this pandemic.

Understandably as human beings living in a materialistic world we often tend to think and choose based on stuff. Stuff we convince ourselves are things we need, when in fact we do not. Want them, yes, need them, no. Here is where we need to invoke the help of the Holy Spirit with simple and humble hearts for the grace to discern between need and want. Seeking His help is embracing our own poverty.

In this pandemic the entire human family shares the poverty of vulnerability.

No matter how rich an induvial may be, no matter how powerful and rich a particular country may be with scientists and technology, every human being experiences this vulnerability, the physical, emotional, spiritual stress of a poverty never before experienced on such a total scale, or personally. Famines may strike a particular region, for example, but famines are understandable: crops fail, food lacks, malnutrition sets in and the world community responds with food aid and eventually the crisis of people suffering is overcome.

No barren fields with winds visibly whipping away the topsoil, no drought withering the crops before our eyes, this impoverishment’s agent is invisible to the naked eye, strikes at whim, kills.

We are experiencing the poverty of vulnerability in extremis.

It is vital we remember in this, as in all things, we are not alone for He who is with us embraced poverty and vulnerability to the ultimate of both and so Jesus we may refer to rightly,  as THE POOR ONE, THE VULNERABLE ONE.

The great Pauline hymn of Christ’s Kenosis and the First Beatitude are interwoven: Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but also everyone for those of others. In your minds you must be the same as Christ Jesus. Who, though He was in the form of God, He did not cling to His equality with God but He emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, He humbled Himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. [Phil. 2:2-8]. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. [Mt. 5: 3].

As with everything Jesus does and teaches all is about love. Inviting us in the Little Mandate to be about the poor – going to the poor, being poor, being one with them, one with Me – also is all about love. The fullness and simplicity of real poverty has less to do with the material aspects of life, everything to do with love: ……You shall love your neighbour as yourself. [in Mat.22:35-40; Mk.12:28-34; Lk. 10:25-27] and as we know we shall be judged on how we loved everyone, in particular the poor, judged in light of  the great “I was” identification of Jesus with the materially and spiritually poor, which is each of us in our needs: Mathew 25: 31-46.

The love Christ means is a live current that comes from God, is transmitted from person to person and returns to God. It runs a sacred cycle reaching from God to an individual, from the individual to his neighbour, and back through faith to God. He who breaks the circuit at any point breaks the flow of love. He who transmits purely, however small a part of the love, helps establish the circuit for the whole. [3]



[2] DEARLY BELOVED Letters to the Children of My Spirit, Volume One, 1956-1963, p. 62; Catherine de Hueck Doherty; Madonna House Publications, 1989

[3] THE LORD, by Romano Guardini; p.70; Henry Regnery Company 1954 [Italics are mine]


© 2020 Fr. Arthur Joseph


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