Pope Francis: Concern for poor is sign of Gospel, not red flag of communism

Vatican City — Focusing on poverty and sacrificing for the poor are the heart of the Gospel, not signs of communism, Pope Francis said at his morning Mass.

Furthermore, if Christians don't dig deep and generously open up their wallets, they do not have "genuine faith," the pope said Tuesday during the Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

He said people often hear, "Oh, this priest speaks about poverty too much, this bishop talks about poverty, this Christian, this sister talk about poverty. Well, they're a bit communist, aren't they?"

But "poverty is precisely at the heart of the Gospel. If we were to remove poverty from the Gospel, people would understand nothing about Jesus' message," he said, according to Vatican Radio.

Being fully Christian means being rich in spirit, faith, the Word, wisdom and zeal -- things that Jesus has taught and offered all people, he said.

We say: Charlottesville reveals the weeping wound of racism. What do we, the American Catholic faith community, do next? Read the editorial.

Make sure, however, that this huge amount of "wealth in the heart" also impacts the wallet, he said, because "when the faith doesn't reach your pockets, it is not a genuine faith."

Pope Francis said the "theology of poverty" is based on the fact that Jesus -- in his divine richness -- became poor; he lowered himself and sacrificed himself to save humanity.

The beatitude "Blessed are the poor in spirit" means "letting oneself be enriched by the poverty of Christ and not wanting to be rich with those riches that are not from Christ," he said.

Christian giving goes beyond plain charity, which is good, but isn't the "Christian poverty" believers are called to embrace, he said. "Christian poverty is: I give to the poor what is mine, not the excess, but also what is necessary" for one's own well-being.

Christians do this because they know that sacrificing in such a way enriches them, he said. "And why does the poor person enrich me? Because Jesus said that he himself is in the poor."

When people strip themselves of the material, "Jesus works within" them and they are enriched; when people give to the poor, Jesus is also working in the poor, "in order to enrich me when I do this," the pope said.

The clearest sign Jesus left of how giving enriches others, the pope said, is the gift of himself in the Eucharist. "He becomes 'bread' for us."

That is why the "theology of poverty" is the heart of the Gospel and not "an ideology. It is precisely this mystery, the mystery of Christ who lowered himself, was humiliated, made himself poor in order to enrich us."

Support independent reporting on important issues.

 One family graphic_2016_250x103.jpg

Show comments

NCR Comment code: (Comments can be found below)

Before you can post a comment, you must verify your email address at Disqus.com/verify.
Comments from unverified email addresses will be deleted.

  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the original idea will be deleted. NCR reserves the right to close comment threads when discussions are no longer productive.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report abuse" button. Once a comment has been flagged, an NCR staff member will investigate.

For more detailed guidelines, visit our User Guidelines page.

For help on how to post a comment, visit our reference page.

Commenting is available during business hours, Central time, USA. Commenting is not available in the evenings, over weekends and on holidays. More details are available here. Comments are open on NCR's Facebook page.

Advertisement