Pope Francis opens his reflection of the Third World Day of the Poor (November 17, 2019) quoting a psalm that could have been written today. “The hope of the poor will not perish for ever” (Ps 9:19).

Listen to these exact words from this reflection on this Psalm…

The Psalm was composed at a time of great economic development that, as often happens, also led to serious social imbalances. The inequitable distribution of wealth created a significant number of poor people, whose condition appeared all the more dramatic in comparison with the wealth attained by a privileged few. The Psalmist, observing the situation, paints a picture as realistic as it is true…

The situation is not much different today. The economic crisis has not prevented large groups of people from accumulating fortunes that often appear all the more incongruous when, in the streets of our cities, we daily encounter great numbers of the poor who lack the bare necessities of life and are at times harassed and exploited…

Scripture constantly speaks of God acting on behalf of the poor. He is the one who “hears” their cry” and “comes to their aid”; he “protects” and “defends” them; he “rescues” and “saves” them… Indeed, the poor will never find God indifferent or silent in the face of their plea. God is the one who renders justice and does not forget (cf. Ps 40:18; 70:6); he is their refuge and he never fails to come to their assistance (cf. Ps 10:14).

Falsifying the gospel

5. We can never elude the urgent appeal that Scripture makes on behalf of the poor. Wherever we look, the word of God points to the poor, those who lack the necessities of life because they depend on others. They are the oppressed, the lowly and the downcast.
Yet, faced with countless throngs of the poor, Jesus was not afraid to identify with each of them: “Whatever you did to one of the least of these my brethren, you did to me” (Mt 25:40)…

If we refuse to make this identification, we falsify the Gospel and water down God’s revelation. Commitment to the promotion of the poor, including their social promotion, is not foreign to the proclamation of the Gospel. On the contrary, it manifests the realism of Christian faith and its historical validity.

What must be done

The involvement of Christians in this World Day of the Poor and especially in the events of everyday life, goes beyond initiatives of assistance… A change of mentality is needed, in order to rediscover what is essential and to give substance and verve to the preaching of the kingdom of God…

Hope is also communicated by the sense of fulfillment born of accompanying the poor not for a brief moment of enthusiasm, but through a constant commitment over time. The poor acquire genuine hope, not from seeing us gratified by giving them a few moments of our time, but from recognizing in our sacrifice an act of gratuitous love that seeks no reward…

Dear brothers and sisters…

I encourage you to seek, in every poor person whom you encounter, his or her true needs, not to stop at their most obvious material needs, but to discover their inner goodness, paying heed to their background and their way of expressing themselves, and in this way to initiate a true fraternal dialogue.

Please take a few minutes to read in its entirety his brief reflection for the Third World Day of the Poor!


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