TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH OF MONSEIGNEUR DE LA BOUILLERIE, Archbishop of Perga, Coadjutor of Bordeaux.
THE EUCHARIST AND POVERTY.
THE EUCHARIST AND POVERTY.
I consider first Jesus Christ in His earthly life. This loving God Who made Himself everything to all, and Who, in His goodness, sheds over all men the infinite treasures of His grace, showed, however, a veritable predilection for the poor. Himself willed to be poor. "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay His Head. , Divine words, which I love to meditate upon, for they seem to me a touching expression of the poverty of Jesus Christ.
How, then! Does not the stable of Bethlehem resemble the holes where foxes find shelter? Did not the high cross raised on Calvary resemble the nest where birds have their dwelling ? But hardly is He laid in the humble manger of Bethlehem, than, pursued by the fury of Herod, He must fly even to the borders of Egypt in the arms of His Mother. And as to the cross of Calvary, far from being a nest where He may repose* He only leans His thorn-crowned Head there in order to die. Between Bethlehem, where He was born, and Jerusalem, where He died, the holy Gospel relates to us His hidden life at Nazareth, His apostolic life in Judaea. But it is of His life at Nazareth that David, long before, had said in His name: "I am poor, and in labours from my youth."
His apostolic life is precisely that during which He has nowhere to lay His Head! Without shelter, without resources, living on alms, obliged to have recourse to a miracle in order to pay the tribute to Caesar, despoiled on the cross of the miserable vesture which covers Him, Jesus Christ is truly the Divine Poor Man Who, according to the expression of S. Paul, being rich, deprived Himself of everything in order to enrich our poverty.
In the second place, Jesus Christ, poor Himself, chose among the poor His companions and His friends.
Follow Him when He begins His ministry in the world, and when He is going to
assemble His first disciples. " Does he call," says S. Augustine, "orators, senators, emperors? Patience," continues the great Bishop, "their turn will come later. But first He takes the fishermen of the Lake of Galilee; first the poor, first the ignorant and the imbecile. Later, with these fishers of men, He will bring into His nets orators, senators, and emperors."
But not only does He choose the poor to preach His Word, He makes those who would give themselves to Him descend to the humble rank of the poor. "Everyone of you that doth not renounce all that he hath," He says, "cannot be My disciple."
These divine words have created in the world a new kind of poverty — voluntary poverty. Grace, stronger than nature, has delighted in overthrowing the fragile advantages of condition and of birth. In order to make more friends for Jesus, it has multiplied the poor. And who can say how many millions of souls have bought, at the price of their fortune, the divine intimacy of the Saviour!