When I was reading this weekend Gospel, I remembered a friend who came with the whole family to Sydney to attend the son’s graduation at UTS. After graduation I had a chance to meet them and took them around to see some exotic places in New South Wales and Canberra. Since they were very much involved in the parish where they come from, they would know about priests. One of the comments addressed to me was, oh so you are religious therefore you have the vow of poverty, meanwhile diocesan priests have no vow of poverty. I said yes and no. Yes, I took that vow but “evangelical poverty” is addressed to everyone not just religious.
That is precisely what Jesus said in the Gospel today. At the end of his conversation with a man (not with a religious), he said: “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the Kingdom of God” (Mark 10:24). This doesn’t mean that people who have things are not worthy for the kingdom of God. What I explained to those friends of mine was that it is not about having things, but it is about allowing things to own us. And this message is to each one of us not just for those who pronounce their three religious vows publicly. Evangelical poverty frees us from “being owned” & “competing desire”: (Mat 4:20 – The disciples left everything). Mere things must not own us or block us from hearing divine call (Mat 19:16-30 – rich young man went away sad).
Evangelical poverty also helps me to have an attitude of solidarity. Mother Teresa of Calcutta once said: “We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty”. And solidarity is the way to remedy this poverty.