As I reflect on the First World Day of the Poor I have no problem imagining Jesus and St. Vincent de Paul cheering Pope Francis not only for calling for this annual day of remembrance of those who are poor but also for casting it in the framework of the Beatitudes.

Pope Francis’ beatitudes

In his message for the first World Day of the Poor Pope Francis wrote:

Blessed, therefore, are the open hands that embrace the poor and help them: they are hands that bring hope.

Blessed are the hands that reach beyond every barrier of culture, religion, and nationality, and pour the balm of consolation over the wounds of humanity.

Blessed are the open hands that ask nothing in exchange, with no “ifs” or “buts” or “maybes”: they are hands that call down God’s blessing upon their brothers and sisters.

Jesus’ beatitudes

If Jesus walked this earth the way he did 2000 years ago I am certain he would congratulate Pope Francis on this restatement of his words. “Yes, understand what I was saying.”

“‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’” Mt. 25:40

““The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”(Luke 4:16)

St. Vincent’s life embodied the Beatitudes

Vincentians recognize how Vincent made these two statements of Jesus the cornerstone of what he taught and lived. If anyone would like further elaboration of this visit the article by Sister María Angeles Infante, DC, “St Vincent de Paul: A Man of the Gospel”. She focuses on how Vincent experienced the beatitudes. “As he explained the beatitudes as essential maxims of Jesus Christ, Vincent was in actuality speaking about realities that he was living.”

Vincentian Family accepts the challenge.

Leaders of the Vincentian Family certainly have joined the chorus as they heed the call to welcome the stranger. In their name Fr. Tomaž Mavrič recently stated

“If you dream alone, your dream is still only a dream; but if we dream together, the dream comes true!” Vincent de Paul used to say that ours must be an affective and effective love.” This certainly echoes the theme chosen by Pope Francis – “Let us love, not with words but with deeds,”

Our commitments

We come full circle to the beatitudes which sum up for Francis what we are called to on this World Day of the Poor, asking

Lord, when did we open hands that embrace the poor and help them?

When did we reach beyond every barrier of culture, religion, and nationality?

When did we ask nothing in exchange, with no “ifs” or “buts” or “maybes”?



This post first appeared on the website of the Eastern Province of the Congregation of the Mission USA..


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