A message from Episcopal Vicar for Christian Discipleship CANON JOHN LUMLEY ahead of the fourth World Day of the Poor, which takes place this Sunday (November 15).
Last year we were able to host a hugely inspiring event in St Mary’s Cathedral involving various charities, groups and organisations based in our diocese who work with those on the margins of society.
We listened to the moving stories of individuals who had been helped and empowered by their work.
We were also treated to some uplifting music by Streetwise Opera and offered our prayers, praise and thanks to God the Father of us all, in a moving liturgy.
This year, sadly, there has been no opportunity at all for any kind of physical gathering or event to mark this important day.
Instead, I have invited our priests to remember the World Day of the Poor in their prayers and Masses this Sunday, and also to publicise the Holy Father’s message for the World Day of the Poor.
The Vatican website offers a brief commentary of the message, which I summarise below…
The theme for this year’s World Day of the Poor is “Stretch forth your hand to the poor”, taken from the book of Sirach, which insists that even amid hardship we must continue to trust in God.
Based on his reading of Sirach, Pope Francis tells us that “prayer to God and solidarity with the poor and suffering are inseparable” and that “time devoted to prayer can never become an alibi for neglecting our neighbour in need.”
The Pope calls on people to keep their gaze fixed on the poor, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, and warns against succumbing to a “whirlwind of indifference”.
Pope Francis praises the way that so many “outstretched hands” have been offered to those in need: through doctors, nurses and carers, of course, but also through administrators, pharmacists, priests, volunteers and other essential workers, and he states that generosity to the suffering and afflicted is a condition for a fully human life.
The pandemic has opened our eyes both to the goodness of the saints “next door” and to a renewed sense that we need each other and have a responsibility for each other and for the world.
Pope Francis concludes that “until we revive our sense of responsibility for our neighbour and for every person, grave economic, financial and political crises will continue.”