Monday, 9 November 2015

Playing poverty

We commenced our Provincial Chapter this morning with a recollection preached by Fr Mallavarapu Sundar, a diocesan priest of the archdiocese of Hyderabad.  I had met him a couple of times when here in the Provincial house as the Secretary.  I remembered him well... wasn't sure if he would.  However was pleasantly surprised to hear him call me by name and recall the few times we met and interacted six years ago!

Anyway, during his reflection in the morning he was sharing his experience of having to hear a friend priest from the United States, who did not have much of an appreciation for our Pope Francis. He said, (quoting his friend) that Francis was "being poor and playing poverty."

Contesting this accusation, Fr Sundar stressed that Pope Francis is truly genuine in his life and words and is truly doing a great job.  It is basically we priests and religious who deserve the title of 'playing poverty'.  We really do not practice it but are eloquent speakers and proclaimers of the same... mere verbally and that too only from the pulpit.  Neither are we poor at words there at the pulpit!

As I sat reflecting on those words, I realised the Pope being really poor need not at all play poverty.  Only when one is not genuine or truthful about being poor does one have to put up a whole facade and dramatise poverty.  Of course, the final straw: poverty, if it does not help me come close to Christ and His people is as good as riches or anything else.  Poverty (and for that matter every other evangelical counsel) is only a means to live and come closer to Jesus.  By itself, poverty is good but not necessarily a virtue!

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