Embracing Poverty this Advent
There are advantages and disadvantages in everything, and the same can be said to be true with regards to poverty.
Priests and religious make a vow of poverty in which they renounce personal worldly possessions and instead engage in communal sharing. They take their example from Christ, understanding that poverty is not a thing to be avoided – as the rest of the world sees it – but as something to be embraced, something which can add value to their lives and assist them in growing in their spiritual well-being.
Thus can priests and religious be an inspiration to those among poor who can cover the basic necessities in life. They prove that there can be something to gain from living in a state of material simplicity. They show that the quest for material success should not be the quest to which we are all striving towards, especially when this comes to the detriment of our spiritual happiness.
Nevertheless, we live in a materialistic society whereby the success of individuals is measured not by how spiritually happy one is, but by how much material one has come to possess. We live in a society where everything revolves around how much one has accumulated.
One of the reasons why society is materialistic is because the pain and suffering associated with material poverty tends to outweigh the pain and suffering associated with spiritual poverty.
Spiritual poverty is more covert, and thus we assume that we can manage these on our own or that we can ignore it. But just like material poverty, over time it can aggregate and threaten our well-being.
The key is to be like Christ: to be balanced, to be equal. This means that instead of focusing on one over the other, we should embrace them both with equal magnitude: the material and the spiritual.
Advent is a time to balance our appetites and passions, to exercise restraint in our desires for material gain and to live in a state of material simplicity. Through our material simplicity we stand in solidarity with the poor, and are led by the Holy Spirit to grow in spiritual astuteness, to be more loving, caring and supportive: to be more like Christ.
The pain and suffering which material poverty brings is as nothing in comparison to the spiritual blessings we receive from living a spirit-filled life.