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  • Sarah Raad

Wealth

Bear the load of thy neighbour’s poverty and let him bear with thee the load of thy wealth.Thou lightenest thy load by lightening his.” (Saint Augustine).

The Rich Young Man and Jesus (Icon)

With all the terrible implications of the horrible COVID-19 pandemic, I have been reflecting very much about the economic cost of a global pandemic.


This is not to say that I do not consider the social or environmental costs or even the cost to people’s lives as so many people died from this virus, it is just to say that I have been reflecting on the changed state of the economy at this time compared with the economy a couple of years ago…


And as I have been thinking about the economic cost of the pandemic, I have been reflecting on wealth. After all, while my family – like many around the world – has felt the economic pressure of the pandemic, we have certainly been spared the worst of the economic fallout caused and we are surely numbered among the lucky ones in this pandemic…


And as I have been reflecting on our relative wealth, I have also been thinking about a story that Saint Faustina recorded in her Diary at 1312-1313 about her encounter with a “poor young man”, and how this encounter revealed to her the Mercy of God…


“Jesus came to the main entrance today, under the guise of a poor young man… He asked for something hot to eat… I succeeded in finding some soup, which I reheated and into which I crumbled some bread, and I gave it to the poor young man, who ate it. As I was taking the bowl from him, he gave me to know that He was the Lord of heaven and earth… ‘My daughter, the blessings of the poor who bless Me as they leave this gate have reached My ears. And your compassion, within the bounds of obedience, has pleased Me, and this is why I came down from My throne — to taste the fruits of your mercy’... From that moment on, there was stirred up in my heart an even purer love toward the poor and the needy… I understand that mercy is manifold; one can do good always and everywhere and at all times. An ardent love of God sees all around itself constant opportunities to share itself through deed, word and prayer...” (Diary 1312-1313).


And I see in this an opportunity for mercy – God’s Mercy – in all things… For this world is somewhat topsy-turvy isn’t. We often look around us at those who are wealthiest and most successful and we think t ourselves, “How lucky are they!” And yet, Saint Augustine said, “Poverty is the load of some, and wealth is the load of others, perhaps the greater load of the two. It can weigh them to perdition. Bear the load of thy neighbour’s poverty and let him bear with thee the load of thy wealth. Thou lightenest thy load by lightening his.”

For Christ works many wonders through the poor and things are not usually as they seem. After all, the rich young man went away from his encounter with Christ sad… “Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.” (Matthew 19:21-22).

And I have been thinking about that today as I think about my wealth – for Saint Augustine is right – wealth is the greater load for – without Grace – it can weigh me to perdition…


For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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