Pope Francis says that if you remove poverty from the Gospel, you cannot understand the message of Jesus. According to Vatican Radio, the Holy Father spoke of this theme during his daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta today.
In his homily, Francis reflected on the contrast between wealth and poverty, and reaffirmed how it is unfair to call priests or bishops who speak of the poor, “communists.”
The Holy Father recalled how St. Paul organized a collection in the Church of Corinth for the Church of Jerusalem whose people were living in difficult times of poverty.
“Today, as then,” Francis observed, poverty is “a word that always embarrasses.”
“Many times,” he said, “we hear: ‘But this priest talks too much of poverty, this bishop speaks of poverty, this Christian, this nun talks about poverty … But they’re a bit ‘communist,’ right?” To this, Francis responded, “Poverty is at the very center of the Gospel. If we we remove poverty from the Gospel, you would not understand anything about the message of Jesus.”
When St. Paul spoke to the Church of Corinth, the 78-year-old Pontiff said, the Apostle highlighted what was their real wealth.
Paul told them, “You are rich in everything, in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and love that we have taught you … As you are rich, you are also great for this generous work” in “this collection.”
“If you have much wealth in the heart, zeal, charity, the Word of God, the knowledge of God,” the Pope noted, you need to give to the poor. “When faith does not come with pockets, [it is] not a genuine faith.”
“There is this contrast between wealth and poverty,” Francis said. “The Church of Jerusalem is poor, is in economic difficulty, but it is rich, because it has the treasure of the Gospel message. And this Church of Jerusalem, poor, has enriched the Church of Corinth with the Gospel message.”
“From poverty comes wealth ,” Francis added, saying, “It is a mutual exchange.”
The foundation of the “theology of poverty,” Francis stressed is this: “Jesus Christ was rich – from the wealth of God – and was made poor. He lessened himself for us.”
The Argentine Pontiff also pointed out that from here, we have the meaning of the first Beatitude, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” That is, “being poor is letting oneself be enriched by the poverty of Christ and not wanting to be rich with other riches that are not those of Christ.”
The Pope stressed that simply helping the poor with the excess that one has is not what St. Paul had in mind. Instead, the Pontiff stressed, Paul is wishing that people truly give of themselves.
When one gives up something, he noted, “but which is not only from abundance,” to give to the poor, the Pope said, this “enriches me.”
“Jesus is acting in me when I do this,” Pope Francis said.