That God Rewards the Poor in Spirit Not Only in the Next Life but Also in This

by admin on May 29, 2011

THAT you may not think that all your reward is made out to your account for the next life, and fancy that your pay is credited to you with a long time to run before it is due, whereas you pay your contribution in money down on the spot, I say God rewards the poor in spirit not only in the next life, but also in this, and that very handsomely. We men are so self-interested and so moved by the present and visible that, when that does not come to hand, we seem to have no heart left to do anything. God takes account of our weak nature and would not even in this life leave without reward those who renounce all things for His love. So He adds immediately beyond the promise mentioned: And whoever for love of me shall leave house, brothers or sisters, father or mother, wife or children, or any property or inheritance, shall receive a hundredfold, and afterwards life everlasting (Matt. xix. 29). The hundredfold is to be understood of something that he shall receive in this life, and after that, in the next world, life everlasting. So Christ Himself declares by St. Mark (x. 30): There is none that hath left house, and so forth, for me and the gospel, but shall receive a hundred times as much now at this time, and in the world to come life everlasting. You shall not only receive the reward of life everlasting hereafter, for having made yourself poor for Christ, but you shall receive a hundredfold in this life. St. Jerome explains this hun­dredfold of spiritual goods. He says: “He who leaves tem­poral goods for God shall receive spiritual, which in com­parison with those others is receiving a hundredfold.” But Cassian explains it of temporal goods themselves. He says: “Even in these we religious receive a hundredfold in this life, according to the words which the Evangelist St. Mark there puts into the text.” We see this accomplished quite to the letter, and every day we say to fresh comers into religion: “You have left one house for Christ, and you have ever so many houses. All the houses of the order are yours; God has given you them in this life for the one that you have left. You have left a father and a mother, and God has given you in their stead so many parents who cherish you more than those whom you have left, take more care of you and see better what is for your good. You have left your brothers, and you have found here so many broth­ers who love you more than they did, because they love you for the love of God without any interested motive of their own. You have left sundry servants in the world—and per­haps you had not any—and here you have so many to serve you—one as bursar, one as dispenser, one as cook, one as refectorian, one as infirmarian; and what is more, if you travel to Castille, or Portugal, or France, or Italy, or Germany, or the Indies, or any other part of the world, you will find that they have there already set up for you a house with ever so many attendants, who will serve you with the same care and diligence, so that there is no prince on earth who is so well off.” Is not that receiving a hun­dredfold in this life, and more than a hundredfold?

Then what shall I say of the very things that you have left? Even in that respect you have here much more than in the world. God gives you in this life a hundred times more than you have left. You are more master of the pos­sessions and riches of the world than the rich themselves. They are not masters of their estates and riches, but you are; they are servants and slaves of them. Holy Scripture calls them men of riches (Psalm Ixxv. 6); it does not say riches of men, but men of riches, to give us to understand that money is their mistress, since it is she that orders them about, and they are her servants and slaves. For her they serve, for her they labor—to acquire her, to increase her, to keep her. And the more property and riches they hold, the more slaves they are, since they have to spend more care and labor over what they have. The fullness and abundance of the rich suffereth him not to sleep, says the Wise Man (Eccles. v. 11). On his bed at night he goes rolling over from side to side, because his estates and riches drive sleep away from him. But how free is the religious from care! Without reckoning whether things are dear or cheap, whether it is a good year or a bad one, he has everything he wants, as having nothing, yet possess­ing all things, as the Apostle says (II Cor. vi. 10). Thus religious live at ease and without care, as having nothing. How, then, about contentment? There is given us a hun­dred times more than what we had in the world. If you do not believe that, ask folk in the world and those who are best off there, and you will see how many untoward occurrences and disappointments they meet at every step, from which religious are quite free. How, then, about honor? You come in for a hundred times more here in religion than you would have found there; because the nobleman, the prince, the prelate, who there in the world would have taken no notice of you, now, when he sees you wearing an old patched habit, does you much honor and shows you great respect. How, then, about leisure, quiet, and tranquillity? In everything God gives us a hundred times more in religion.

But why all this? Do you know why? That, being unembarrassed and unencumbered by things of earth, we may put our whole heart in heaven; that the solicitude and care that we should have had to take over things of the world, and in the quest of what is needful for the support of the body, we should exchange for the care of pleasing God more and more and growing every day in virtue and perfection, according to the saying of the prophet of the children of Israel: God gave them the regions of the nations and the labors of peoples, that they might keep his com­mandments and observe his law (Psalm civ. 44-45). This  is also what God says by the Prophet Ezechiel, speaking of priests: Let my priests not have any inheritances, since I mean to be their inheritance. Give them no possessions in the land,, since I am bound to be their possession (Ezech. xliv. 28). For this, then, do we leave our inheritances and possessions, because God wishes to be our inheritance and possession. Happy lot of the religious, in that such an inheritance and possession has fallen to him! The lot of our inheritance has come to fall to the best advantage; we have come off well, since to our brethren there has fallen earth, and to us heaven. The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance (Psalm xv, 5), God of my heart and my portion forever (Psalm Ixxii. 26). The blessed St. Francis used to say that poverty was a heavenly and divine virtue, because thereby men despised and trampled underfoot all earthly things and rid themselves of all lets and hin­drances, to the end that their soul, free and unshackled, should be at liberty to attend only to the things of heaven and union with God.

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