By Jim Fair
“This poor man cried and the Lord heard him,” it recounts in Psalm 34. But Pope Francis asks the faithful also to hear the cry and act.
His words come in his message for the second World Day of the Poor, which is to be celebrated on Nov. 18, 2018, on the theme: ‘This poor man cried and the Lord heard him’. The Vatican released the letter on June 14, 2018.
“We are told, first of all, that the Lord listens to the poor who cry to Him and is good to those who seek refuge in him, their hearts broken by sadness, loneliness, and exclusion,” the Pope said. “The Lord listens to those who are downtrodden in their dignity and yet have the strength to look up in order to receive light and comfort. He listens to those who are persecuted in the name of a false justice, oppressed by policies unworthy of the name and intimidated by violence.”
Citing Psalm 34, the Pope explained the three verbs the writer used:
- To Cry: “The condition of poverty cannot be expressed in a word, but becomes a cry which crosses the heavens and reaches God. What does the cry of the poor express if not their suffering and solitude, their delusion and hope?”
- To Answer: “The Lord, the Psalmist tells us, not only listens to the cry of the poor, but He answers it. His answer, as attested by the whole history of salvation, is an all-loving sharing in the condition of the poor.”
- To Free: “The poor of the Bible live with the certainty that God intervenes in their favor to restore their dignity. Poverty is not brought on by itself, but is caused by selfishness, pride, greed, and injustice.”
The Pope’s message encourages the faithful to hear the cry, to recognize it and to beware of speaking “too much ourselves…unable to hear them.” And he expressed a concern that “many initiatives, by themselves meritorious and necessary, are intended more to please those who undertake them than to really acknowledge the cry of the poor.
“We are so entrapped in a culture which obliges us to look in the mirror and to pamper ourselves that we believe that a gesture of altruism is sufficient without compromising ourselves directly.”
The Pope’s message encourages a spirit of joy in the observance of World Day and to use it as an opportunity to get together, praying together as a community and perhaps sharing a Sunday meal. The Pope concluded:
“I invite my brother bishops, priests and, in particular, deacons, on whom hands have been laid for the service of the poor (Acts 6:1-7), as well as religious and the lay faithful – men and women – who in parishes, associations and ecclesial movements make tangible the Church’s response to the cry of the poor, to live this World Day as a special moment of new evangelization. The poor evangelize us, helping us to discover every day the beauty of the Gospel. Let us not waste this opportunity for grace.”
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