[Rough Draft]

A weblog about god, doubt, insomnia, culture, baseball

8.25.2004

"the great revaluation"

today is the feast day of louis, king of france. the gospel reading is luke 12.22-31, a passage from jesus' sermon on the plain where he teaches us not to worry about what we wear, what we'll eat, how we'll get along in the world. the feast day of a king, for heaven's sake, and the gospel is about not worrying about the trappings of a comfortable life. fr. moore's homily tonight focused on poverty, a topic oft addressed from our pulpit of late, and once again i'm thinking about what jesus' message means for us in the cushy first world. i do appreciate that there are many in the "first world" who are poverty stricken, but i think it's beyond argument that we're more well-to-do in the industrialized west, as a rule. but it's hard to know what to do w/ parables and teaching about poverty. did jesus in some way romanticize it? is poverty for poverty's sake a good thing somehow? i don't think so. but someone's else's words are usually better than mine, and this is no exception:
jesus does not champion the cause of the free individual against society. he does not stand for the heart as against the law. he does not side with the outcast against the prudent and the respected. he does not consider the sinner as such more valuable than the virtuous. jesus is far from both romanticism and class-consciousness. he is interested only in the individual soul whom he places before god. he possesses the godly power that springs from divine freedom, power to stir all manner of men: the poor and lost simply by accepting them as human beings and bringing them the tidings of god’s mercy; the great and admired by making them realize that they dangerously overrate themselves and risk losing their salvation.

jesus came – he and no other – to bring about the “great revaluation” through god’s message to the world. the new testament does not say that the poor, despised, the sinful are more open to the tidings of the coming kingdom than are the prosperous and the powerful whose one interest is to preserve the status quo. naturally, the wealthy have little desire for a revaluation. the others are readier because they are freer. and though it must never be forgotten that poverty can also lead to separation from god, revolt against god, it is an accepted fact that the poor and the disinherited experience more deeply the illusoriness of earthly existence. the world itself sees to it that they realize where they stand. need can make one apathetic or desperate; still there remains a deep bond between the sinners, the “little ones,” and the divine herald of god’s kingdom, himself poor and homeless.

once the danger of distorting jesus’ portrait has been removed, let us remember the mystery of poverty, of rejection and “folly for god’s sake” that is relevant indeed to christ: the mystery and folly of the cross.

– Romano Guardini, The Lord (Washington, D.C.: Gateway, 1996): 66-67.

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