A wonderful little book, Poverty of Spirit by Johannes Metz is jam-packed with theological wonders. I have read it many times in the last 24 years, and will read it many times in the future. I would encourage all of you to do so also. Published by Paulist Press. The original is in German, but the English translation is quite readable. Only 53 pages.
It begins with beautiful treatise on becoming human. (Pardon the older use of the masculine pronoun “he” and the generic “man”. I am remaining true to the translated text as given to me.)
Metz makes these comments:
“He must fully become what he is –a human being. To become man through the exercise of his freedom–that is the law of his Being…..the free process of becoming a human being unfolds as a process of service. In biblical terms it is ‘obedience’ (cf. Phil. 2,8) and faithfulness to the humanity entrusted to us…By its very nature this process is a trial; imbedded in it is the danger of going awry…he is always a potential rebel….assent to God starts in…sincere assent to himself, just as sinful flight from God starts in man’s flight from himself.”
Attention all deacons! Note Metz’s reference to service as the process by which we become fully human. Diaconal service has it roots in being faithful and obedient to the humanity entrusted to us, both in our own personal life and in the lives of those we serve. I think this could be an area of diaconal spirituality well worth praying over and writing about. Is the vocation of a deacon to render service to others so as to help them embrace more fully their humanity, and in doing so, our own?
The book later discusses the many forms of poverty of spirit that human beings experience: poverty of the commonplace; poverty of misery and neediness; poverty of uniqueness and superiority; poverty of provisionality; poverty of finiteness; the poverty of death. Each of these point to areas of human existence in need of diakonia and the sacramental presence of the Church.
Deacons, what are your thoughts about this?