When his disciples were going out to preach the kingdom he wanted them to rely on the hospitality of the people they would serve, so he told them to take neither money nor food. It is a misreading of his instructions to say he wanted them to embrace poverty.
The first reading shows us the sensible attitude we should have toward riches and poverty. It says that an abundance of riches could lead one to feel he could get along without God. As for poverty, it says it could put you where you had to steal to stay alive.
I often think of an incident in Bernard Malamud’s novel The Assistant. A New York drifter tried modeling his life after St. Francis of Assisi. Like an old time knight he would great things for an untouchable lady; he would pretend that Poverty was his lady fair, and he would perform marvelous deeds in her honor.
The Assistant’s one luxury was a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. He would make the coffee last an hour while he talked about his lady fair to the guy behind the counter. That guy was busy going over his Racing Form, choosing the horses to bet on for the afternoon’s races, so he only half listened. Eventually, though, he got fed up with the Assistant’s fixation. So he said, “Listen buddy, poverty aint no beautiful lady. Poverty is a dirty business.”
Poverty is a dirty business, and the Church should be ashamed of herself for having said anything different.