Headline seems like a broad statement to make considering that we should never discriminate between the rich and the poor. We are always taught to love and respect both and so we should. But there is this idea in many people’s heads that the majority of the rich are quite good with their money and do a lot of good. I have to say though that those who do you use their riches ( as instructed to do so in the Bible ) in order to help contribute to society and charity are ( in my narrow experience of it ) less than the 1% of America.
I was recently in one of Americas richest towns visiting someone. We took a drive around the neighborhood and I noticed quite a lot of riches. I was told a lot of these people work on wall street. The town was expensive, the shops were expensive and the supermarkets were pretty much all expensive. I thought to myself ”so this is where the ‘elite’ of society hang out and burn their money”. Here I was, thrown out of my normal middle to lower class routine. Now I am in the great sea of Americas purported finest and wealthiest. No doubt in my mind that they had all that they wanted on demand. Whatever they needed materially they could get it at the snap of a couple of fingers.
It was obvious that through having experience of these folk they were very paranoid. And I guess they had every valid reason to be considering that we are living in a world in which the 99% are largely jealous of their large income and lifestyle. Anyone outsider who puts a foot through their door is often treated with such paranoia. The scriptures teach us you see that the rich are always crying poverty and the poor are always wanting to be rich.
We drove on a sunny day through and around the whole town. The sun was splitting the trees and each mansion we passed seem to just get bigger and more extravagant. As I was taking a swig of my water something strange happened to me. I suddenly began to feel an enormous emptiness and absence of Gods presence where I was. It is very difficult to describe. At first I was worried but later I figured ( at least I would like to think so ) that it was a grace given to me by Christ himself. Not many around these parts went to Church. Of the baptized Catholics I met, not many attended Church.
I have rubbed shoulders with many of the elite rich in the past and I can honestly say their behavior is one that resonates an odor of invincibility. A strong perfume that seemed to swallow any need for God in their lives and an avoidance of anything that would be considered poor or unworthy of their company. In my opinion this has a lot to do with not wanting ”to look” for fear of being healed. There seems to be a desire to smother themselves in the American dream. It is a dream and just that. If I could put my own spin on it I’d probably call it the American nightmare. However we will stick with the dream. So it definitely seems as if people like this want to clothe themselves in fantasy and not really take a look at the real world outside. They know the real world exists but the illusory steak just tastes too good to let go. Its like the guy in that movie the matrix. He betrays his fellow brethren who live in the real world to opt for the world created by the bad agents. He says ”I know this steak is not real, even as I chew it, but my my does it taste so good.”
So whats the deal with the title of this post you may ask? I guess that through my feeling of this absence of God and an absolute increase in a behaviour of arrogance that I could not think of anything more poverty-stricken. We all have this one concept of poverty to be without material gain and goods and so it is. But there is another kind of poverty and that is to be rich in materialism, pride, arrogance etc and to be without Jesus Christ in one’s life; to have a complete absence of He who is our true riches and gain. I realized ( by no power of my own ) that there is more to poverty than meets the eye. Poverty is not just in the third world or those who cannot make the mortgage, it also exists among those who think they are not poor and have it all covered. This kind of poverty of the rich and elite is very hidden and silent and therefore makes it all the more dangerous. It is easy to acknowledge one kind of poverty and deal with it ( below the poverty line that is ). But the other kind of poverty of the soul is not so easy to see, and when we are driving with no headlights on in such a cold and dark nightmare we are bound to hit a dead-end. But even then, after we have crashed into that wall and died, it’s very difficult to acknowledge we are truly dead. So we end up going through life asleep ( dream ) and we die in our sleep ( dream ) or shall I say nightmare?
Jesus said that it is very difficult for the rich to gain heaven. When we first take a glance at such words we immediately think of materialism and so we should. However I have a feeling that Jesus words run much deeper than this. That to have the riches of the ego and possession of pride and greed and every sin that flows from is also the riches that Jesus speaks of. Because although having material gain can seduce us into possessing these hidden treasures of death, they are in themselves not so bad as long as we live the Gospel and contribute it to charity and the needs of the poor. However, it seems that from what I experienced, once seduced by the latter it is very difficult to go back. But of course Jesus tells us that although this impossible to men, nothing is impossible for God so lets pray for the poverty-stricken in every class, that they gain the true riches that Jesus Sacred Heart has on offer, because these riches don’t rot out and destroy our souls. They are eternal and forever.
If we want to be truly rich, live the Gospel.
If we want to experience true poverty, then all we need is a job on wall street.
If we want to experience poverty that is beneficial to the soul, then all we need do is strip ourselves of all that is not God. For it is in this poverty of the soul that we become truly rich in His Grace.