In the course of sharing my daily reflection during this novena to St. Joseph, some persons have asked me about St. Joseph’s poverty. One of the remarkable questions was posed this way: “why is St. Joseph called ‘Lover of Poverty?’ we know he was poor, but did he really love to be poor and made the Holy family uncomfortable that he could not take care of them?”
Therefore, the title of St. Joseph “Lover of Poverty” shall be briefly clarified on this 5th day.
First, it is important to understand poverty. At its very essence, poverty is about dependence. A poor person is deeply aware of both his need and his inability to fulfill those needs. Thus, People who are materially poor are more readily able to realize their spiritual dependence on God because one’s reality always informs their spirituality. In contrast, a wealthy person is independent, free to make decisions, and able to never need anyone else. Little wonder, in the Beatitudes, Jesus tells us that “Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 5:3). To be poor in Spirit means that one is detached from the things of this world, and therefore, has made room in their mind and heart for spiritual riches. It is only in this sense that poverty is seen to be a virtue. So far that detachment from material things facilitates one to look to God to fill the void. Even Luke makes it quite plain: “Blessed are the poor, for yours is the kingdom of God” (Luke 6:20)
St. Joseph, a simple carpenter, was not attached to the things that he owns. His life was characterized by change of location at Christ’s infancy stage. He leaves his possessions and takes only what would be necessary and could be carried for the journey, considering Christ’s nativity at Bethlehem, flight into Egypt, and return to Nazareth. In other words, Joseph, trusting that the Lord would provide, got up and left with Jesus and Mary and the necessities needed for the journey. The Lover of Poverty demonstrated once again the freedom to leave all in the hands of the Lord in order to respond generously to him. He is “lover of poverty because he relied firmly on God – the Divine Providence. All his earthly possessions were nothing compared to the task of protecting the God-Child and His Mother.
Dear friends, in a world filled with greed and selfishness, pursuit of the good life, attachment to material things, love of money, consumerism, and individualism, we turn to St. Joseph that he might make us realize that God has placed material goods in our care and not the other way round. May St. Joseph teach us how to detach from worldly goods and pleasures, and place our hearts on the things that are above, with a firm reliance on Divine providence.
St. Joseph, “lover of poverty,” pray for us.
© Fr. Chinaka Justin Mbaeri, OSJ
Paroquia Nossa Senhora de Loreto, Vila Medeiros, São Paulo, Brazil
email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
PS: Have you prayed your Rosary today?