By Nathaniel Richards
God resisteth the proud, writes St. Peter, but to the humble he giveth grace (I Pt.v. 5).
Our Blessed Lord, when the fullness of time had come, did not deign to become Incarnate in the womb of a great earthly Queen or Empress who had many possessions or monetary riches; rather, by the power of the Holy Spirit and the Fiat spoken by a simple Hebrew maiden in Nazareth, He became man in poverty. Our Lady, though the Immaculate Conception, was schooled in humility and had nothing to be proud of in the eyes of the world. Indeed, Mary was Christ’s bridge or ladder from which He journeyed from Heaven to us. As He crossed this bridge to living in time, He lived in a school of humility with the Blessed Mother, alongside His foster-father St. Joseph—from whom He would learn the simple but honorable trade of carpentry. To many, He might not be given a second thought. As Nathanael says in St. John’s Gospel, Can any thing of good come from Nazaereth? (Jn. i. 46). St. Paul says of the Incarnation to the Corinthians: For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that being rich he became poor, for your sakes; that through his poverty you might be rich (II Cor. 8:9).
Indeed, there is a poverty we must imitate that can be found in the Way of the Lord. Without it, I dare say no man may have the hope of salvation. For this poverty is true humility—pure condescension. We sinful men did not deserve Almighty God living amongst us as one of us, let alone the Redemption won for us in the Holy Precious Blood-soaked Cross. Riches that are not laid up in Heaven cannot purchase this humility—it is a gift we receive that we must work out in our pilgrim journey. Indeed, it is something that does not necessarily come natural to us of our own, because it is not of our own device. Our Lord says, It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven (Mt. xix. 24).
Though it be hard, it is possible with God for the rich man to enter Heaven, but attachment to earthly things must end—the money and treasure must serve the Lord. If you are not willing to abandon them, sell what you have and give everything to the poor? In a word, give up all temporal things and comforts for His Kingdom, then no—you will not see Heaven. For you did not heed this Divine Command: Lay not up to yourselves treasures on earth: where the rust, and moth consume, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up to yourselves treasures in heaven: where neither the rust nor moth doth consume, and where thieves do not break through, nor steal (Mt. vi. 20).
Earthly attachments through money or other treasures are often the cause of our unhappiness, if we are honest with ourselves. No amount of binge-watching on a streaming service or scrolling through social media will put our hearts at ease. No amount of education or financial success will make us truly happy. Our smartphones and our degrees have in some cases contributed to a terrible sadness. Therefore, we must not adore these things, but the True and Living God who fulfills us.
To illustrate this principle, consider what St. Paul told the Athenians:
For in him we live, and move, and are; as some also of your own poets said: For we are also his offspring. Being therefore the offspring of God, we must not suppose the divinity to be like unto gold, or silver, or stone, the graving of art, and device of man. And God indeed having winked at the times of this ignorance, now declareth unto men, that all should everywhere do penance (Acts xvii. 28-30).
Returning to St. Peter’s Epistle, the Apostle acknowledges that our cares and worries of this life often weigh upon us. They even induce much unneeded anxiety. Therefore he says, Be you humbled therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in the time of visitation: Casting all your care upon him, for he hath care of you (I Pt. v. 6-7). We must heed our cares and cast them upon the Lord lest they get the better of us. He can take it. He can take anything. And He must take it if we are to be made whole. At the Scourging at the Pillar, he took lashes on our behalf that we deserved (Is. liii. 5). St. Peter says that in the Passion, of Christ, that His own self bore our sins in his body upon the tree: that we, being dead to sins, should live to justice: by whose stripes you were healed (I Pt. ii. 24).
What cares must you cast upon the Lord? Everything. For Our Lord gave everything for you. And if we are to be His disciples and good sheep under a Good Shepherd, we must always entrust ourselves to His watchful care. He cares for us—there is nothing too little for Him, nothing too grand. He created the universe and sustains it—and by Providence sustains us, miserable sinners but His people all the same. And His Way? His humility that we must imitate comes to us chiefly in the Blessed Sacrament. The Holy Eucharist is the divine daily condescension to make man holy…we must avail ourselves of this Heavenly Manna in order to become like the poor God who, by joining our poverty, invites us to His everlasting wealth of Himself in Heaven. In this we prove St. Peter’s admonition that we were as sheep going astray; but you are now converted to the shepherd and bishop of your souls (I Pt. ii. 25).
In the end, we shall do no more casting of our possessions. Our cares in Heaven will be gone and there will be no tears shed, for God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes (Apoc. vii. 17). But we shall have crowns of glory, God willing. And like the four and twenty ancients, we shall fall down before him that sitteth on the throne, …and cast…crowns before the throne, saying: Thou art worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory, and honour, and power: because thou hast created all things; and for thy will they were, and have been created (Apoc. iv. 10-11).
Let us not delay. Let us start casting our cares and anxieties upon Him today, so that we can spend eternity with Him. For He is worthy to receive glory, honor, and power—and we will give all these things back to Him forever soon enough, in a world without end.
Amen. Come quickly, Lord Jesus.
Nathaniel Richards is a Catholic husband and father who lives in the Ozarks. He enjoys collecting Catholic books and promises that one day he will read most of them—eventually, maybe. Starting a Catholic bookstore that sells books rather than gifts is a dream of his. He converted from Oneness Pentecostalism to Anglicanism and eventually made his way to Catholicism in 2015.