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Pope Francis: “the poor are our passport to Heaven”

Jim Kearns

Daniel Esparza - published on 11/19/17

Some 4 thousand needy people attended the Mass, after which Pope Francis offered Sunday lunch in the Paul VI Hall in the first-ever World Day of the Poor

Pope Francis celebrated Mass this Sunday, the first-ever World Day of the Poor – in St. Peter’s Basilica. The pope had announced the World Day of the Poor during the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, and entrusted its organization and promotion to the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization. “The poor,” the pope said, “open the path to Heaven,” i.Media Agency reported.

There were some 4 thousand needy people in the congregation for the Mass, after which Pope Francis offered Sunday lunch in the Paul VI Hall. Speaking to guests at the luncheon, the Holy Father asked for God’s blessing on all those eating and serving in soup kitchens throughout the city.

“Rome,” he said, “is full of this [charity and good will] today.”

The World Day of the Poor is to be marked annually, on the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Vatican Radio reported.

In the homily he prepared for the occasion, Pope Francis said, “In the poor, Jesus knocks on the doors of our heart, thirsting for our love. When we overcome our indifference and, in the name of Jesus, we give of ourselves for the least of his brethren, we are his good and faithful friends, with whom he loves to dwell.”

Reminding the faithful that it is precisely in the poor, we find the presence of Jesus, who, though rich, became poor (cf. 2 Cor 8:9), and that there is therefore in each and every poor person, a “saving power”. “If in the eyes of the world they have little value, they are the ones who open to us the way to heaven.”

“To love the poor,” Pope Francis said, “means to combat all forms of poverty, spiritual and material: and it will also do us good. Drawing near to the poor in our midst will touch our lives. It will remind us of what really counts: to love God and our neighbor. Only this lasts forever, everything else passes away.”

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