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“And they crucified him, and divided his garments among them.” Mark 15:24
On the cross, our Lord gives His most powerful teaching on poverty. Stripped of everything, even His own garments, He goes beyond what the executioners take from Him, giving to St. John and the whole Church His most precious gift, His own Mother. It was at this school of the cross that St. Dominic learned of poverty. Several commentators see the nails in Christ’s hands as symbolic of the vow of poverty, as it prevents our hands from doing what we will with material goods.
As poverty was an essential element in the life of our Lord and His apostles, so too it was essential to the life of St. Dominic and his Order. The friars were to preach in voluntary poverty, showing that God alone was their wealth and reward. This poverty was of such importance to St. Dominic that it formed, along with admonitions on humility and charity, part of his last will and testament.
St. Dominic’s deep love of poverty stemmed from his great love of God and trust in His Divine Providence. Anything Dominic received he saw as a gift from God. Once, while out begging, he showed this truth quite clearly, even kneeling down to receive a loaf of bread given to him as alms. The friars, too, were taught to show gratitude by making a profound inclination whenever they received anything.
It is this poverty of spirit which we too must cultivate. Whatever we give or receive must be accepted in a spirit of gratitude to God, the giver of all good things, and of gratitude for our earthly benefactors, both temporal and spiritual. Wherever we may be, be it a place of relative poverty or relative wealth, we must cling to nothing but Christ crucified, our Divine Spouse, who is our true and lasting wealth.
Let us honor today the fifth sorrowful mystery of the Rosary, the Crucifixion, and let us beg, by the intercession of the Blessed Virgin and St. Dominic, the spirit of poverty.