VATICAN CITY, MAR. 9, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Poverty and power are the two seemingly contradictory elements that characterize the Christian's mission, Cardinal Francis George told participants in the fifth day of the papal retreat.
The archbishop of Chicago, who is preaching the spiritual exercises for John Paul II and members of the Roman Curia, dedicated his preaching today to the mission, the assignment Christ left his disciples.
This mission, the cardinal said, cannot be understood without the elements of "poverty" and "power."
For Jesus, real power is the ability to forgive, "the power to break the bonds that keep man enslaved to sin and death," Cardinal George said.
Poverty, he continued, is better understood when contemplating the life of 20th-century apostles Charles de Foucauld, Dorothy Day and Mother Teresa of Calcutta, all of whom proclaimed the Gospel while being poor. Yet, the cardinal cautioned, poverty must be at the service of the mission and not become an end in itself.
He mentioned that there are several kinds of poverty, such as that of the one who must sacrifice himself instead of being dedicated to the direct pastoral needs of people. This is the case of many of the Pope's collaborators in the Roman Curia, who at times must face hard office work, which is less gratifying, perhaps, than the human satisfaction a missionary might experience.
To understand the Christian meaning of the mission, it is necessary to understand the mystery by which Christ became man, Cardinal George added.
"The paradox of the Incarnation and the paradox of our mission are intrinsically linked," he said. "Just as Jesus came to us, so we take him to the world. Just as he comes to us in poverty, and with power, so we also take him to the world with our poverty and his power."
In this morning's second meditation, Cardinal George stressed the need to go out to meet the needs of the desperate, those who feel far away from God, and who at times are hostile to the Church itself.