On November 15, 2020, we are all invited to celebrate the World Day of the Poor with Pope Francis.
The message this year is: “Stretch forth your hand to the poor” (Sir 7:32).” This is an appropriate call for all of us in a year when many of us have closed ourselves away from the world to protect ourselves from the coronavirus pandemic.
In spite of the enormous global challenges of 2020, Caritas has shown that love does not go on lockdown and close itself away from the poor and vulnerable at their time of great need. The mission of Caritas to listen and accompany is powered forward by our many volunteers and staff who give themselves selflessly to building a better world.
Our popes have reminded us that “Caritas is at the heart of the Church” and the World Day of the Poor is a moment to remember and deepen our dedication to placing the poor at the center, to raising them up and to ensuring their voices are heard.
Our mission is to “ensure that people living in poverty are active participants in building an inclusive and equitable society, a transformative Caritas and a welcoming Church.”
But what does this mean for each and every one of us as part of the Caritas family?
The answers are not always easy, but require an attitude which embodies humble listening and solidarity.
Let us not forget that this special day in honor of our brothers and sisters in need is named “World Day OF the Poor” and not “World Day FOR the Poor”.
We are not only sharing part of our wealth with the poor, we are also receiving something from them. In a true Christian community, there are no members who are just giving, and others who are just receiving. There are only neighbors who share because in Christ we are all one.
The hand we outstretch to the poor is not only a hand that distributes but also a hand in need. We need the poor as much as they need us. They challenge us to become increasingly truer witnesses of Christ. When we encounter the poor, listen to them and accompany them, it is they who evangelize us. The poor invite us to open our hearts and to transform our narrow, worldly view to see Christ in their presence here on earth.
“We are called to find Christ in them, to lend our voice to their causes, but also to be their friends, to listen to them, to speak for them and to embrace the mysterious wisdom which God wishes to share with us through them.” Evangelii Gaudium.
Caritas Internationalis president Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle has said, “The big lesson of my life as a pastor has been to go towards the poor, not bearing words, but with a heart ready to listen to and learn from them. Before saying even one single word, it’s important to understand the person who is in front of you. By respectfully listening to the poor, you affirm their dignity.”
As the World Day of the Poor approaches, wherever possible and appropriate, we invite you all to take action to prepare for the celebration of this day.
We encourage you, friends around the world, to reflect on what we have learned from the poor on a personal and community level and ensure they are at the center of our thoughts and actions on that day.
A hand held out is a sign; a sign that immediately speaks of closeness, solidarity and love. On the World Day of the Poor, together, we will reach out our hands as one human family in global solidarity to build inclusive and equitable societies and a transformative and welcoming Church.
Yeah, he’d been homeless … but he was my friend