Thought for the Day – 2 July – Monday of the Thirteenth Week, Year B – Today’s Gospel: Matthew 8:18-22
“The poverty that makes rich.”
Excerpt from the “Sacrum Commercium” – “The Sacred Exchange between St Francis and Lady Poverty”
“And when He had fulfilled all those
Things of which you have spoken,
and desired to return to the Father Who had sent Him,
He made me a Testament to His Elect
and confirmed it by irrefragable Decrees :
Lay not up Gold nor Silver, nor Money.
Carry neither Purse, nor Scrip, nor Bread, nor a Staff, nor Shoes, nor two Coats.
And if any Man will contend with thee and take away thy Coat,
let go thy Cloak also. And whoever shall compel thee to go a mile,
go with him other twain.
Lay not up unto yourselves Treasures upon Earth,
where Rust and Moth doth corrupt
and where Thieves break through and steal.
Take no thought, saying:
What shall we eat, or what shall we drink,
or wherewithal shall we be clothed?
And take no thought of the morrow,
for the morrow will take thought for itself.
Sufficient unto the Day is the Evil thereof.
Whosoever doth not renounce
all that he hath, cannot be my
disciple . . . And many the
like sayings, which are all to
be found in the Gospels.”
The Sacred Exchange between Saint Francis and Lady Poverty, is one of the richest texts of the early Franciscan movement, “the single most brilliant example of the simple but lapidary allegory which was to become a major mode of spiritual writing in the later Middle Ages.” An allegory offering insights into Francis’s vision of poverty, the Sacred Exchange weaves a luxuriant tapestry of images held together by the strong threads of a biblical theology. For all of its richness, however, no text of these first hundred and fifty years is more mysterious. Like the weaver of an undated tapestry, the author of the Sacred Exchange is content to hide obscurely making sure that the ends and threads are in their proper place that the beauty and exactness of his work may be seen. Although there are many names suggested, the author of the Sacred Exchange still remains unknown. The same holds true for the date of its composition though it is believed by solid historical explorations, to date from late 13th century.
The allegory is an exhortation written to encourage Francis’s followers to live in the authentic way of the saint’s biblical vision of poverty. The central figure of the work is Lady Poverty, the personification of biblical Wisdom and, at times, of the Church.
The Passage above is one of the most profound, as each word is taken from scripture and bound together into a poem of immense richness.
This is a lesson we now need to embrace, as difficult as it would seem in the world in which we live, the world led only by riches. For this is a true desire for sanctity, with Christ alone as our riches!