Some of you may recall that Jaime Cardinal Sin, our Archbishop, visited the Soviet Union a few years back. I was with him then. I share with you now an incident that happened before that visit.
As a prince of the Church, Cardinal Sin cannot go to a communist country. So, for his trip to Russia, he had to secure the permission of Rome. Thus, he wrote a letter to Rome. After three months without receiving a reply, the Cardinal and I went to Rome to ask the Holy Father whether he would allow him. The Holy Father did not want to commit any mistake, so he called for a council of cardinals composed of 15 cardinals all over the world. We had to wait in Rome until all the 15 cardinals arrived. The Pope asked each one of them if they would allow the Cardinal of Manila to go.
Each one was allowed to speak. I realized then that there were other cardinals who were aspiring to go to Russia because no cardinal had yet set foot on Russian soil since 1917. The human aspect of the Church came in when the other cardinals did not want Cardinal Sin to go because they themselves wanted to go. They wanted to be first. Finally, the cardinals of the First World countries asked, through the Holy Father, why the Cardinal of Manila should be invited to go to Russia. Cardinal Sin, with a very faint smile on his face replied, “It is probably because I come from a poor country. The Philippines cannot be a threat to Russia. That may be the reason why they invited me. I have nothing to boast of. I am poor and I come from a poor country
The Cardinal’s explanation was so simply yer pointedly said that it made me cry. The other cardinals were also moved they stopped all further deliberations and gave Cardinal Sin the go signal
I can never forget the scene because it really shows us how God blesses the poor. Poverty always carries with it its blessings. We should never be afraid of being poor because we might miss a lot of graces.
Other nations may have a lot of money, but these are nothing in the kingdom of God. God chooses the weak to confound the strong. God chooses the weak to bring His mission to completion.
In an account in the Acts of the Apostles, Peter saw a crippled man at the beautiful gate of the temple. Peter said to the man, “Brother, gold or silver I have none in my pocket. I am poor, but in the name of Jesus Christ, I bid you to stand up and walk.” The crippled man was able to walk.
Our world needs to rise up from being crippled. The Philippines needs to rise up from its paralysis. Why can’t we address the Philippines? Why can’t we address the crippled people now and say, “I bid you, in the name of Jesus, rise up and walk?”
I am afraid the reason must be because we cannot say, “Gold and silver, I have none.”
We cannot say that anymore. We cannot say we do not have money in our pocket and that our only treasure is Jesus. The admonition will not ring true for us, because we have money jiggling in our pockets, we have wealth stashed in our homes. We cannot invoke the words because they are not true for us.
We are unable to utter the words, and this is why miracles no longer happen. We cannot bid the cripple to rise up anymore because we cannot say, “I have no more silver, I have no more gold”.
Can we still say that? Do you really believe that poverty is a blessing?
If your house were to burn today, if you were to know right now that you have contracted a fatal illness, would you still thank God? Would you still praise God for all these things that could happen?
Let us not forget. God blesses the poor in spirit. Poverty always carries with it a blessing. If we are poor, we could command the cripple to walk. If we are rich, we could become powerless in the eyes of God.
THE BLESSING OF BEING POOR
Only Jesus, Always Jesus