Scripture can sometimes be confusing. We know that God created everything, and called it all “good.” But in today’s Gospel reading, Jesus seems to suggest that partaking in this good creation—having enough to eat, being able to provide for our material needs, and enjoying ourselves and the earth—is somehow bad, even a curse. What’s going on?
None of these things—wealth, good food, laughter, or praise—are bad in their own right. The problem is when we are satisfied by these earthly things—when we’re so filled up with them that we lose the desire for God.
In contrast to this, Jesus praises those who are empty—the poor, the hungry, the sorrowful, and the excluded—again, not because poverty or hunger or any of these things are good in their own right, but because when we find ourselves in these conditions, we’re more open to God. We know that nothing here will ultimately satisfy us, and so we turn to Him.
The Church calls this the virtue of spiritual poverty—and it can transform the way we think about wealth. Instead of wealth becoming a kind of ball and chain, that holds us down and holds us back, spiritual poverty allows us to see that whatever we have is a gift—a gift God has entrusted to us, and asks us to use prudently as His stewards. Let’s keep the virtue of spiritual poverty in mind as we discern—as a community and as families—how we can support our Diocesan Ministry Appeal.
Rev. Mark Zacker