Memorial of Saint Clare, virgin
(Deuteronomy 31:1-8; Matthew 18:1-5.10.12-14)
St. Clare was very close to St. Francis of Assisi in the quest to live poorly. Her father tried in vain to budge her from the austerity of Franciscan life in which she consecrated herself to God. She also managed to resist the exhortation of churchmen that her convents own land to support themselves. This radical stance vis-a-vis poverty begs the questions, why? Why did Clare and, for that matter, Francis cling so tenaciously to poverty?
The answer is hinted at in today’s gospel. Jesus urges his disciples not to become like the rich and powerful. He wants them to be as humble as children so that they might know the Kingdom of God. Heaven, he teaches, is not for those who think highly of themselves. Rather it belongs to those who can forget their own needs in service of others.
Certainly we need things in order to live. However, as Pope Francis teaches in his new encyclical on the environment, we need less than we think and even need to have less so that future generations may live at all. Embracing the poverty of Clare and Francis, we may give others encouragement to conform themselves to Jesus’ prescription for attaining eternal life.