Alan Keyes
The riches of the poor: A Christmas Greeting
By Alan Keyes
December 30, 2013

    And Mary said: My soul doth magnify the Lord.

    And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.

    Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid: for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

    Because he that is mighty hath done great things to me: and holy is his name.

    And his mercy is from generation unto generations, to them that fear him.

    He hath shewed might in his arm: he hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.

    He hath put down the mighty from their seat and hath exalted the humble.

    He hath filled the hungry with good things: and the rich he hath sent empty away.

    He hath received Israel his servant, being mindful of his mercy.

    As he spoke to our fathers: to Abraham and to his seed for ever. (Luke 1:46-55)

At its heart, Christmas is a season of joy for all humanity. For when Christ came into the world, he re-opened to mankind their true way of life, as God intended it. He brought the way to eternal life. He quenched the thirsty flame of the sword God put in place to enforce the terms for our release from the day of death.

Christ is the Word made flesh. In and through him it is possible for us to bring to term the age of death and dying marked out by Eve's mistake. By reaching for equality with God, she surrendered the Godlike quality of life that He Himself declares to be the intention of our nature. But Christ "who, being [already] in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God...emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man" (Philippians 2:6-7).

In our times, equality continues to be a great preoccupation. This is particularly true in discussions and debates about economic life, especially among those "children [sons] of the world [age]" who are like the unjust steward [in the Greek "oikonomon," economist], whom Christ ironically commended when he walked the earth (Luke 16:8). Wiser than those whom Christ calls the "children of light," these temporizers measure all things in material terms, thinking it better to amass, here and now, seeming goods, partially measured out, than to claim, in full measure, true goods, measured out by the One whose hand constitutes the standard of all goodness.

In this respect, Christ brought a revolution in the meaning of words that denote life and wealth and poverty. In Christ's day, the first shall be last; the lowly shall sit down before the great ones of the earth; the wealthy shall find their riches bereft of power; those poor in worldly goods shall find that their poverty has become the rich resource in which is found the key to treasures stored up beyond the reach of ill.

For in finding Christ, we learn to seek first the Kingdom of God. But Christ tells us that "it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God" (Matthew 19:24). So Christ saw that the widow's mite was worth more than all the contributions of the worldly rich (Mark 12:42-44). To mint God's currency, ore must be found within the heart, yielding riches in proportion to the faithful sacrifice that signifies the love of God. This love is the deep vein of life, flowing from depth to depth, arising and returning to the one who is the source of all.

Many people, blinded by the splendor of their own wealth and power are, tragically, more likely to trust in their own devices than in the Spirit's way. Invisible to their pride, that way wends through Bethlehem and the Mount of Olives, through Nazareth and Golgotha, to meet those who gather from all directions 'round the diadem of thorns and glory that circles the brow of Heaven's King of Kings.

But those who, in the quiet simplicity of their hearts, can better hear and heed the whispered voice of conscience may be more likely to let their deeds exemplify their hope, doing what they would have others to do. They may be more willing to let others take for granted the forgiveness of which their neediness so often finds itself in need. They may be more humbly able to acknowledge God in the happenings that great abundance slights, but that great need will celebrate as the joyous gift of life. All in all, they may be more disposed "To do justice; and to love mercy; and to walk humbly with...God" (Micah 6:8).

In this respect, what the world measures as poverty, the Lord of Heaven sees as a rich resource of faith. What the world despises as foolishness, the Savior of the World recognizes as the key to the key of Heaven. So when he walked the earth incarnate, Christ's Spirit called loudly to the lowly and the poor. So even now, he knows the vein of God's riches that they represent. They are called to be the vessels, voice, and ministers of the Lord. In their simplicity, the foolish-seeming wisdom of God's heart is called to rouse the world.

How tragic, then, that in our day, so many ministers of the word heed the "children of the age" when they clamor for "equality" for the poor and lowly. Seeing with the world's eyes, they use the plea of poverty and "institutionalized" evil to excuse the violence and resentment that those deprived of worldly goods may perpetrate against their envied betters. (See, for example, His Holiness Pope Francis, Evangellii Gaudium, I.59.) They imagine an "end of history" when, by some miracle of human ingenuity, human laws and institutions eliminate material poverty, bringing "peace, peace where there is no peace" (Jeremiah 6:13-14).

Yet Jesus said "the poor you always have with you." From among the poor He chose apostles; and as apostles, those who may have been rich assumed the habits of the poor. So He tells the rich young man seeking salvation to make himself materially poor for God's sake. Had the man accepted Christ's ruling, he would have relieved the material condition of some poor people, while adding himself to their number. So, all in all, the Spirit of Christ's ministry is one that above all honors God, and lives according to His rule. This any heart may do, whatever the material circumstances. But Christ continually assumes that hearts less burdened by material ambitions are better disposed to do so than those preoccupied by wealth, worldly status, and power.

Should we, therefore, forget what we know from the example of the Lord? Those whom the world regards as poor and lowly, Christ calls to something more than equality. Their lives may be a store of riches, made ready by the Providence of God. From this treasury, the teachers, ministers, and magistrates of God's kingdom may be lifted up to the vocations and seats prepared for those who are willing to clothe their seeming nakedness in Christ's habit of sacrificial love. By bringing the mind and heart of Christ to life within themselves, they can take the lead in spreading to all the world His good news of true life renewed. Isn't this the true heart of the "preferential option for the poor"?

To see more articles by Dr. Keyes, visit his blog at and his commentary at and

© Alan Keyes


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Alan Keyes

Dr. Keyes holds the distinction of being the only person ever to run against Barack Obama in a truly contested election – featuring authentic moral conservatism vs. progressive liberalism – when they challenged each other for the open U.S. Senate seat from Illinois in 2004... (more)


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