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Friends, today’s Gospel is Luke’s pithy version of the beatitudes. First we are told, “Blessed are you who are poor.”

We notice that there is none of the softening offered by Matthew (“poor in spirit”), but a simple and straightforward statement of the blessedness of being poor. How do we interpret what seems prima facie to be a glorification of economic poverty? Let me propose the following reading: “How lucky you are if you are not addicted to material things.” One of the classic substitutes for God is material wealth, the accumulating of “things.”

The freedom and fullness of detachment is probably no better expressed than in John of the Cross’ beautiful mantra: “To reach satisfaction in all, desire satisfaction in nothing; to come to the knowledge of all, desire the knowledge of nothing; to come to possess all, desire the possession of nothing; to arrive at being all, desire to be nothing.”

This fourfold nada is not a negation but the deepest affirmation. It is finally to see the world as it is and not through the distorting lens of cupidity and egotism.