Personal wealth and talents, at the service of the good

The Christian who lives in the midst of the world must not forget, however, that material goods in themselves are goods that he must make produce for his own family and society, for the good works that he supports with his efforts, and that he must sanctify himself with them. Nothing could be further from the true spirit of secular poverty than the cowering attitude of those who view the world and its riches with fear. True progress and development - also material - are good and dear to God. And the Lord never preached neither filth nor misery. We all have to fight, to the extent of our possibilities, against poverty, misery and any situation of destitution that degrades the human being.

The poverty of the ordinary Christian, who has to sanctify himself in the midst of his secular tasks, does not consist in a merely external circumstance: to have or not to have material goods; it is about something deeper that affects the heart, the spirit of man; it consists in being humble before God, in always feeling needy before Him, in being pious, in having a surrendered faith that is manifested in life and in works. If one possesses these virtues and also an abundance of material goods, the Christian's attitude must be one of detachment, of generous charity. He who does not possess abundant material goods is not justified before God if he does not strive to acquire the virtues that constitute true poverty. Even in scarcity he can manifest his generosity, his lordship, and he must also be detached from the very little he has at his disposal.

Jesus was very close to the poor, to the sick, to those who suffered any need, but among those closest to his Person there was no lack of people of more or less substantial fortune. The women who supported his needs were well-to-do people. Some of his Apostles, like Matthew and the sons of Zebedee, had certain economic means. Joseph of Arimathea, a rich man, is expressly mentioned as his disciple; he and Nicodemus have the privilege of receiving the dead body of Jesus8 , for whose burial the latter brought a great quantity of spices (about a hundred pounds, more than thirty kilos!). The family of Bethany, with whom he had a special friendship, was probably of a certain social standing, since many Jews came to his house after the death of Lazarus. He calls Zacchaeus to stay in his house and admits him among his followers. The very dress of Jesus was not lacking in elegance, for he wore a seamless, fringed robe....

"The goods of the earth are not evil; they are perverted when man sets them up as idols and, before those idols, prostrates himself; they are ennobled when we turn them into instruments for good, in a Christian task of justice and charity. Our treasure (...) is Christ and in Him all our loves must be centered (...)"; He is the true value that defines our whole life, above which there is nothing. He is the true value that defines our whole life, above which there is nothing. We must imitate Him, according to the personal circumstances of each one. And we must never take for granted the detachment of goods and their right use, because the tendency of every man, of every woman, is to fabricate their own idols, to create "unnecessary needs", to spend more than they should, to possess goods for their own whims without taking into account that "man, in using them, should not consider the things he rightfully possesses as exclusively his own, but also as common, in the sense that they do not benefit him alone, but also others".

Let us examine today the rectitude with which we use our goods and whether our heart is set on the Lord, detached from the little or the much that we possess, bearing in mind that "a clear sign of detachment is not to consider - truly - anything as one's own".