If you read my blog, you know that I enjoy reading Fr. Pat McNulty from Madonna House. In a very recent article, he talks about experiencing poverty during Lent, discovering how poor we really are. An excerpt:
Since that first Lent, much has changed in my life: there has been growth, healing, and conversion. But in some deep, deep place in my heart, I know that the real change hasn’t taken final hold yet. And it’s down there in those depths that I need to discover how poor I really am and how to beg for God’s mercy and for the ability to embrace this poverty with new hope and joy.
For I am insufficient unto myself. I, along with all of mankind, am on a restless pilgrimage, a pilgrimage in search of a final fulfillment which those who are truly poor know is theirs only in the kingdom of heaven.
We are all beggars! It’s nothing to be ashamed of. The Son of God was the poorest beggar of all, and it didn’t bother him a bit. It was, he said, his food to do the will of his Father!
But so many of us do not recognize our own poverty and thus cannot figure out why we are always so spiritually hungry.
I don’t love my spouse anymore. That’s poverty.
My child just died without warning in an accident. Why? Why? That’s poverty.
He’s a lousy preacher, but we’re stuck with him. That’s poverty.
My kids don’t have anything to do with God anymore. That’s poverty.
I don’t like this senior citizen dwelling I’m in. That’s poverty.
Why do you not heal me of this sickness, Lord? That’s poverty.
I spent a fortune on my education, and I can’t find a job commensurate with it anywhere. That’s poverty.
I’ve lost my job and I can’t find another one of any kind. That’s poverty.
I don’t want to grow old. That’s poverty.
I can’t stand my neighbour. That’s poverty.
I have no friends. That’s poverty.
Nobody understands me. That’s poverty.
Our poverty is all around us. We are all beggars. And The Beggar we follow has been there, done that, and wears the scars of those wounds. He knows exactly how to teach us to embrace our poverty as he embraced his. Even our need to be taught is our poverty!
Our desire to learn is our begging. And his response is the food that gives us new life.
Lent is a perfect desert-time for us to own our poverty, great or small, to put real words on it, to cry it out, to yell it out, to beg it out, and finally to embrace it as it is, whatever it is, and wrap it up in his mercy.
Then by Easter, after we’ve looked again with Jesus deep into our own personal poverty, the Risen Lord can show us how to reach out even more to one another—whether we are rich or poor.
If you want to read the whole article, just click here.