For the last seven years, Pope Francis has asked us to contemplate the Poor around us on the World Day of the Poor, being the Sunday before the Sunday we celebrate Jesus as King of the Universe. We gather, says Pope Francis, “to receive once more the gift and strength to live lives of poverty and to serve the poor.”
Material poverty can be obvious, but Pope Francis prompts us to seek out other – less obvious -forms of poverty and address their causes. We are called to not only acknowledge every poor person but also every form of poverty.
Men and women devoted to care for the poor do more than give charity; “they listen, they engage, they try to understand and deal with the difficult situations and their causes.” Getting to the causes of poverty can be difficult. Archbishop Helder Camera of Brazil was praised when he gave food to the poor but ridiculed and dismissed when he asked why the poor had no food.
Pope Francis suggests other forms of poverty arise from war, from economic and ecological speculation, inadequate wages, unsafe work places, a sense of hopelessness especially among our young.
We surely meet Christ in the poor and so we are cautioned “not to turn our face away from anyone who is poor” and not to turn away from many situations causing poverty.
In the absence of a Diocesan Commission for Justice Peace Development and Ecology (JPDEC) the JPDEC Steering Group is asking all Parishes to mark Sunday 19 November, the World Day of the Poor, with an examination of the Poor and forms of poverty in each parish area. Parishes are also asked, importantly, to determine the causes of such poverty.
Pope Francis’ Letter for the 7th World Day of the Poor and other excellent resources can be found at https://www.caritas.org.nz/world-day-of-the-poor. As always Caritas provides us with some great ideas, liturgy and action plans and even some tips for homilies – listen out for them. According to the Caritas website, don’t be surprised if your priest checks-in with you while he prepares the homily.
All parishes are encouraged to share with the Steering Group their findings, before the end of November. Please email [email protected].