WelCom November 2023
World Day of the Poor message: Don’t look away!
“Do not turn your face away from anyone who is poor” – Tobit 4:7
The World Day of the Poor is a Catholic observance established by Pope Francis in his Apostolic Letter, Misericordia et Misera, issued on 20 November 2016 to celebrate the end of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. The Pope asked for the Catholic Church to set aside a Sunday every year and ‘reflect on how poverty is at the very heart of the Gospel’.
His Holiness named this observance the World Day of the Poor and it is held on the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time each liturgical year (usually in November).
Pope Francis has declared Sunday 19 November 2023 to be the seventh World Day of the Poor, with the theme of ‘Do not turn your face away from anyone who is poor’ (Tobit 4:7).
In his message for the 2023 World Day of the Poor, issued 13 June, Pope Francis reflects on the example of Tobit. He considers how the Book of Tobit teaches us to be realistic and practical in whatever we do with and for the poor, writing that ‘caring for the poor is more than simply a matter of a hasty hand-out; it calls for re-establishing the just interpersonal relationships that poverty harms.’
Pope Francis begins his message by stressing that ‘a great river of poverty is traversing our cities and swelling to the point of overflowing; it seems to overwhelm us, so great are the needs of our brothers and sisters who plead for our help, support and solidarity.
‘We are living’, he continues, ‘in times that are not particularly sensitive to the needs of the poor. The pressure to adopt an affluent lifestyle increases, while the voices of those dwelling in poverty tend to go unheard.’
In particular, he stresses ‘new forms of poverty’, such as ‘peoples caught up in situations of war’, the ‘inhumane treatment’ of many workers, and ‘peculation [misappropriation] in various sectors’, which he said had led to ‘dramatic price increases that further impoverish many families’.
…whenever we encounter a poor person, we cannot look away, for that would prevent us from encountering the face of the Lord Jesus.Pope Francis, World Day of the Poor Message, 2023
Faced with problems of this magnitude, Pope Francis writes, our responsibility is clear. We must heed Tobit’s words to Tobias: ‘Do not turn your face away from anyone who is poor.’
‘In a word,’ he continues, ‘whenever we encounter a poor person, we cannot look away, for that would prevent us from encountering the face of the Lord Jesus.’
Thus, ‘the parable of the Good Samaritan (cf. Lk 10:25-37) is not simply a story from the past; it continues to challenge each of us in the here and now of our daily lives. It is easy to delegate charity to others, yet the calling of every Christian is to become personally involved.’
Pope Francis goes on to point out that this year is the 60th anniversary of the publication of Pope John XXIII’s landmark encyclical Pacem in Terris, in which he urged that ‘Every human being enjoys the right to life, to bodily integrity and to the means necessary for the proper development of life, including food, clothing, shelter, medical care, rest, and, finally, the necessary social services.’
How to act, Pope Francis asks, in the face of the failure of the political process to deliver these goods?
The answer, he says, is two-fold. There is, one the one hand, ‘a need to urge and even pressure public institutions to perform their duties properly’, but, on the other, ‘it is of no use to wait passively to receive everything “from on high”’.
Those living in poverty, Pope Francis stresses, ought also to be included in this search for ‘change and responsibility’.
Pope Francis’ 2023 World Day of the Poor Message: tinyurl.com/World-Day-Poor-2023
Source: Vatican News
See Archbishop Paul invites us to ‘reinvigorate and reorient our hearts’ among the poor
See A spirit of encounter
See Seek out the Poor!