Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, priest

Today’s readings remind us of the danger that lies in the preoccupation with material goods.  The book of Proverbs says, “Give me neither misery nor riches” because either extreme can easily shift our priorities away from the spiritual.  We shouldn’t be worried about what we are to eat: neither because we have an overabundance of possibilities nor because we have nothing.  Having enough – what is sufficient for our own needs – allows us to move on to other things.

Jesus recommends this style of detachment to his Apostles who go about preaching, healing, and driving out demons.  The recommendations are not intended to cause them additional difficulties or suffering, but to simplify and remove concerns they need not have.  To demonstrate concern over material things while bringing the Gospel would make them less effective in their mission.

St. Padre Pio exemplifies the Franciscan spirituality and Gospel ideal of poverty.  St. Paul says, “I have accepted the loss of all things that I may gain Christ.”  In the Beatitudes we read, “Blessed are you poor, yours is the kingdom of God.”  This beatitude guides us into a progressively simpler way of life, like St. Padre Pio, so that we may be more absorbed into the kingdom of God than the worldliness and trappings of this present life.  Simpler also means more full of prayer, and as Padre Pio taught, “prayer is the key that opens the heart of God.”


The poor man and the rich man should therefore take heed, because there are temptations for the man of poverty as well as for the man of wealth. And so the wise man says, “Give me neither beggary nor riches.” He tells you how this can be obtained. Man has enough when he has a sufficiency, because a wealthy man tends to distend his mind with cares and anxieties, just as he gorges his stomach with rich food. For that reason the wise man prays that he may have what is necessary and adequate.…
Shun and avoid, therefore, the temptations of the world, so that the poor may not despair and the rich may not grow proud.1


Solomon says, “Give me neither beggary nor riches; give me only what is necessary and sufficient,” lest being filled I should deny and say, Who sees me? Or being poor, I should steal and forswear the name of my God; thus representing riches as satiety, poverty as a complete lack of the necessities of life, and sufficiency as a state both free from want and without superfluity. Sufficiency varies, however, according to physical condition and present need.… In every case, care must be taken for a good table, yet without overstepping the limits of the actual need.2


Surely you see that this sufficiency is not to be coveted for its own sake but to provide for health of body and for clothing which accords with one’s personal dignity and which makes it possible for him to live with others honorably and respectably.3


It was most appropriate for Jesus to instruct his disciples to take nothing with them. He wished them both to be free from all worldly care, and so entirely exempt from the labors that worldly things require, that they would not even worry about obtaining necessary and indispensable food for themselves. Manifestly, One who instructs them to abstain even from things such as these entirely cuts away the love of riches and the desire of gain. For their glory, he said, and, so to speak, their crown, is to possess nothing. He separates them even from such things as are necessary for their use, by commanding them to carry nothing whatsoever, neither staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money nor two coats. Observe, therefore, as I said, that he takes them away from worthless distractions and anxiety about the body. He commands them not to worry about food, repeating to them, as it were, that passage in the psalm: “Cast your care upon the Lord, and he shall feed you.” For what Christ says is also true: “You are not able to serve God and money.” And, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”4


He commanded them both to remain in one house, and from it to take their departure. For it was right that those who had once received them should not be defrauded of the gift. It is also right that the holy apostles themselves should not place any impediment in the way of their own zeal and earnestness in preaching God’s message. This would happen if they allowed themselves to be carried off to various houses by those whose object was not to learn some necessary lesson but to set before them a luxurious table, beyond what was moderate and necessary.5



  1. SIX DAYS OF CREATION 6.53. Wright, J. R. (Ed.). (2005). Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon (pp. 176–177). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  2. THE LONG RULES 20. Wright, J. R. (Ed.). (2005). Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon (p. 177). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  3. LETTER 130. Wright, J. R. (Ed.). (2005). Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon (p. 177). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  4. COMMENTARY ON LUKE, HOMILY 47. Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (p. 148). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  5. COMMENTARY ON LUKE, HOMILY 47. Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (p. 148). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
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Gabriella Polka
Gabriella Polka
3 years ago

Great Article!

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