Our Lady and St. Juan Diego

Our Lady and St. Juan Diego

Monday, June 8, 2015

Entrustment To Mary = The Beggar ~ The Beloved

"When we say the words 'Kyrie, eleison" (Lord, have mercy), during the Holy Mass, we relive what happened near Jericho when the blind beggar called upon God. With this plea, [Pope Benedict XVI] has written: '...we admit to who we truly are and who [God] is for us...' '...we say: Look on me God, I am nothingness, but You are everything. I am poor and in need, but You are all immeasurably rich and able to heal all the needs of the world. I am sinful and evil, but You are full of lavish love.' [1]

My first encounter with the ‘beggar’ here in Malaybalay were two little girls, about the same ages as Hannah and Grace (maybe 4 and 6 or 7 years old). All of us as a family were walking in the main ‘downtown’ part of the city when the two girls came up to us rubbing their stomachs and holding their hands out to us. One of the girls was wearing flip flops with soles almost two inches too short for her feet. We took off Hannah’s sandals and gave them to the little girl (they fit her perfectly), and then bought them some cookies and bread to eat. We felt good. The second time we had decided to get ice cream cones from inside the department type store ‘Gaisano’ on a hot Sunday afternoon, and as we walked outside to find a way home, a little boy came up to me (I had barely taken one lick of my ice cream) rubbing his tummy and with a pained look on his face, holding out his hand for the ice cream. Of course I gave it to him right away and felt good about it.. But, as the weeks went by my heart began to change with these ‘begging’ encounters. I learned quickly that we, as rich ‘white people’, were always going to be pursued as benefactors for these people who made their livings by begging, and I was becoming more and more annoyed by the way they were so ‘practiced’ in their methods - the pained looks, the persistence (one time a girl was so persistent even though I said I had nothing, she kept begging me as I walked all the way to the multi cab and even as the multi cab began driving away!). And, I was feeling more and more angry by the fact that many times the children were being used by their adults to beg and bring in money (sometimes to the point that the child would refuse bread and insist that they only wanted money). I began to dread going downtown and began to feel angry when someone came up and begged me for something. Yet somehow I knew in my heart that there was something wrong with my attitude.. I asked God to show me how He sees these people. The way He answered me was by showing me how He sees me as His beloved beggar.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says “man is a beggar before God”. And it is true, as St. Paul writes “What do you possess that you have not received? But if you have received it, why are you boasting as if you did not receive it?” (1 Corinthians 4:7). Everything I have - from the food I eat to the ability to think about God and pray, are God’s alms to me. I truly have nothing on my own.. on my own I am only dust. But why is it so hard for me to accept that I am truly a beggar before God - meaning someone who has nothing to give in return but who receives everything freely from the One who is rich? God began to show me something shocking - that is, how in many ways I must learn from these beggars who I was despising more and more. I began to realize that actually these beggars may have a much easier time to embrace God then me. I feel like God was even showing me how He admires their humility and even their attitudes to some degree.. not that God wants them to beg and to use their children to beg (only He knows their situations and stories), but that when they beg, they give a beautiful example of how to live the spiritual life. The beggar is so so persistent! She will not stop asking and following until she receives even a peso in return. Jesus praises persistence even in the Gospels when He is speaking about prayer ( “I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him whatever he needs’ - Luke 11:8). The humility of the beggar is amazing. Even as they are rejected, they do not curse. Even if I put in their hand only one or two pesos, they are satisfied. They truly know that they are receiving something like crumbs falling from the table for the dogs.. and they are willing to accept being so low. Whether they are given a half eaten piece of food, a few pesos or a kilo of rice, it is obvious that the beggar is grateful for what he has received. I think that God looks upon these smallest children of His with so much tenderness and love. I think that truly they will be able to receive the Kingdom of God with ease when they stand before Him one day. 

For me I’m afraid it is not so easy. I often resemble a beggar who is so proud.. who does not want to receive ‘crumbs’ and who is ungrateful for the shower of alms I receive so freely from God’s hands every day. I am like the beggar who receives something but angrily throws it back at my benefactor because I wanted ‘more’. I am like a beggar who, though I have received everything for nothing, convince myself that I have earned it and deserve it by my own doing and am so often blind to the fact that I have not done anything good on my own. Even though I really have no choice but to receive God’s alms (because without them I would not survive physically or spiritually), I convince myself that I am entitled to receive them or that somehow I can deserve them. Unlike the beggars I have encountered who accept being the ‘lowest’, I am always so desperate to raise my ‘self’ up. But in doing this, I reject the truth and in rejecting that truth, I reject God Himself. This is the truth that will always be and will never change - that on my own I have nothing.. I am nothing, but He is everything. I am poor and in need, but He is all immeasurably rich and able to heal all the needs of the world. I am sinful and evil, but He is full of lavish love (from Joseph Ratzinger, Dogma und Verk√ľndigung). What a beautiful, patient and meek God we have. Alleluia!

Post offered from: http://inmarysarms.blogspot.com/2015/05/the-beggar-beloved.html?m=1
[1]S.C. Biela, Open Wide the Door to Christ, (Ft.Collins, CO: IAMF, 2005), 34-35.

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