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The 3rd Joyful Mystery: The Birth of Jesus

By Jennifer Hartline
December 22nd, 2011
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

He came to us small, weak, dependent and poor. He sought to inspire our affection and devotion rather than command our submission.

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (Catholic Online) – “She gave birth to her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:7

Let this mystery teach us poverty.

When I think about poverty, my immediate reaction is to be repulsed. Poverty is not something I find enchanting. My instinct for self-preservation vehemently rejects the idea of poverty. It inspires fear and dread in me.

Poverty means to be vulnerable, shunned, and perhaps worst of all, invisible. Poverty is empty and deprived.

What a stunning paradox then that God would offer Himself to us in poverty. Omnipotent, All-possessing King lies helpless and needy in humiliating surroundings. He who commands the sun to shine and our hearts to beat within our chests comes powerless into our world to be greeted by cows and sheep.

It’s disarmingly brilliant. We cannot refute the love of a God who sheds His riches and might and gives Himself to us in poverty. He did not come with frightening awe and intimidating splendor so we would cower before Him in fear. He came to us small, weak, dependent and poor. He sought to inspire our affection and devotion rather than command our submission.

As much as I may fear the possibility of material poverty, to never be poor in spirit – that is a much more fearsome prospect. Who are the poor in spirit? Only those brave souls who willingly admit their wretchedness before a holy God, who know exactly how undeserving they are yet humbly bow before Him, grateful for His mercy. Those souls who never presume to be good enough on their own to stand before Him, but know how truly pitiful is their human state.

More than just a superficial knowing, the poor in spirit live the knowledge of their sinfulness truthfully, without making light of their sin. What courage and honesty it requires to see myself as I truly am, without shining up my sin and spritzing perfume on my foul offenses.

If gold could have relieved our troubles and lifted us out of our darkness, then Jesus could have simply come in His Royalty and tossed us bags of coins. If physical power and strength was all we needed to defeat our enemy, then the Invincible could have come with His armies and settled the whole matter in minutes. He came to us in poverty so we would see that all we will ever need is who He is.

We need Him, the person of Jesus. Only He can save us, because we don’t need wealth or power – we need mercy. We need forgiveness to cleanse us. Only His blood can do that. The illusion of our own self sufficient 'goodness' keeps us full of ourselves, but the poor in spirit have Christ as their inheritance, for they know how empty they truly are and so they are filled with Him. “Blessed are they who are poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God.” Isn’t it just like our God to turn poverty into unfathomable riches?

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Jennifer Hartline is a Catholic Army wife and stay-at-home mother of three precious kids who writes frequently on topics of Catholic faith and daily living. She is a contributing writer for Catholic Online.

Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)