By Lorin Peters
The United States, by all accounts, worships money. We celebrate greed. We dominate the world economically. We invade countries which threaten our domination. We behave like all the empires before us.
We honor Jesus of Nazareth for His Crucifixion and his Resurrection. But it is His message which can save us from our greed. The first sentence of His first sermon, His mission statement, was “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of God.”
What is “poor in spirit”? Clearly, it is not worship of money. For me, it has come to mean detachment from money. That is what Jesus told the rich young ruler who wanted to join him. It means living as simply as possible. Think of St Francis.
Well, I‘m not in that league. I try to live on just my “share” of the world’s wealth. Global income per person is about $18k USD. Last year I spent about $23k on myself (including $5k I had not expected). I gave away the rest of my income.
Lacksana and I spent our last seven days in eastern Tijuana (Mexico), helping a group of 32 from the Diocese of San Jose build simple homes for three of the poorest families in its poorest neighborhood. We were hosted by Fr Jesse Esqueda, OMI and the Maria Immaculada Parish. Fr Jesse is a very high energy preacher and leader.
They have numerous programs to help the poor, the left-out, and the abandoned. They help fund education for many who otherwise could not afford it. After their Thursday evening mass, they celebrated the achievements of this year’s graduates. Two graduated from medical school. Several graduated in engineering. Many come “home” to serve their community. Some of their parents have been inspired to come back to the Church.
As I watched, I suddenly realized I was seeing Jesus’ Kingdom in action. I had never expected to see it so clearly. I sat and wept for joy.