Soul of Christ, sanctify me.Body of Christ, save me.Blood of Christ, inebriate me.Water from the side of Christ, wash me.Passion of Christ, strengthen me.O Good Jesus, hear me.Within your wounds hide me.Permit me not to be separated from you.From the wicked foe, defend me.At the hour of my death, call meand bid me come to youThat with your saints I may praise youFor ever and ever. Amen.From Finding God in All Things: A Marquette Prayer Book © 2009 Marquette University Press.The prayer above is attributed to St. Ignatius, and is called "Anima Christi" after the first line. I came across it as I was researching and preparing this week's 'Net, and it struck me that as we struggle to embrace the challenges of the lessons in this upcoming Sunday's readings. You see, in a world that is as challenged today as it was in Jesus' era with great gulfs installed between the "haves" and the "have-nots," these lessons will inevitably strike us right in the soft underbelly of our lives: that place where we worry about having (and holding onto) the resources we think we need to live our lives and provide for those in our care over and against the call to remember and do something about the suffering of those who live in poverty.
You, reading this missive, might not necessarily feel like you are among the most advantaged people on the face of this planet...but that you are able to read- and to read this blog on the internet-means you have more wealth at hand than the vast majority of human beings on the face of this planet. Most of you can go to the tap and get water that is healthy to drink. Most of you can find at least one meal (and in my case, near a dozen meals) in your pantry at home. Most of you can get from here to there and not have to rely on your own feet most of the time. Most of you have more than one change of clothing...and there is a bed you get to sleep in at night. Most of us reading this have this and more.
So, when Amos the prophet turns his narrowed eyes on us and calls folks out on their tendencies, conscious and unconscious, to forget the poor in favor of person comfort and advantage, we have to realize that we fall more into the category of the rich young ruler who meets Jesus in the Gospel than we have privilege to say that we are the ones who need a better share, a deeper blessing. The reckoning truth that we are neglecting chances all the time to make life better for someone who doesn't have what we have is real....
At the same time, we have to acknowledge that while we have (and perhaps want) more than enough, what we really need is access to resources that you can't buy, save up for or lay-away. The true wealth of the kingdom of God is found in relationship, not in things. It is found in community, and not in isolation. It is found in joyful service, not in worried paralysis over the cost.
Why? Because while we might reckon the cost of a house, a car, a meal or any other purchase that means material comfort for us, those we love and perhaps even the stranger in need, that cost means nothing in the face of the impossible and overwhelming grace of the true cost of discipleship in Christ: the acceptance of a place in community. When we are together, we need little else. Jesus invites the rich, young (and righteous) man into that radical fellowship. All the man has to do is let go of his attachments....that is the challenge Amos lays before Israel (and us) in his call to justice...that is the call of discipleship with Jesus.
That is a cost that requires no capital, no collateral but our own willingness to be open to, receptive of and committed to the service of the poor in our midst while we recognize that true wealth is possessed by the one who is able to love without condition and beyond discrimination.
That is when poverty will truly be overcome: when those who have realize that they can possess nothing until all have what they need to live above the poverty line.