Commentary on the Gospel of
On this Solemnity of All Saints, we shall listen to a part of the 87th sermon of Meister Eckhart, the part that deals with the poverty referred to in the Beatitudes:
“If, then, I were asked what is a poor man who wants nothing, I should reply as follows. As long as a man is so disposed that it is his will with which he would do the most beloved will of God, that man has not the poverty we are speaking about: for that man has a will to serve God’s will – and that is not true poverty! For a man to possess true poverty he must be as free of his created will as he was when he was not. For I declare by the eternal truth, as long as you have the will to do the will of God, and longing for eternity and God, you are not poor: you want something for yourself; for a poor man is one who wills nothing and desires nothing….
Secondly, he is a poor man who knows nothing. We have sometimes said that a man should live as if he did not live either for himself, or for truth, or for God. But now we will speak differently and go further, and say: For a man to possess this poverty he must live so that he is unaware that he does not live for himself, or for truth, or for God. He must be so lacking in all knowledge that he neither knows nor recognises nor feels that God lives in him: more still, he must be free of all the understanding that lives in him. For when that man stood in the eternal being of God nothing else lived in him: what lived there was himself. Therefore we declare that a man should be as free from his own knowledge as he was when he was not. That man should let God work as He will, and himself stand idle….
Thirdly, he is a poor man who has nothing. Many people have said that perfection is attained when one has none of the material things of the earth, and this is true in one sense – when it is voluntary. But this is not the sense in which I mean it. I have said before, the poor man is not he who wants to fulfil the will of God since that is self-assertion and greed but he who lives in such a way as to be free of his own will and of God’s will, as he was when he was not. Of this poverty we declare that it is the highest poverty. Secondly, we have said he is a poor man who does not know of the working of God within him. He who stands as free of knowledge and understanding as God stands of all things, has the purest poverty.”
Paulson Veliyannoor, CMF