The Vatican

Jesus Christ became poor for you

The Holy See Press Office has presented the message of the Holy Father Francis for the Sixth World Day of the Poor, to be celebrated on Sunday, November 13, 2022, on the theme "Jesus Christ became poor for you" (2 Cor 8:9).

Antonino Piccione-June 14, 2022-Reading time: 3 minutes

Photo: volunteers handing out food in Brazil. © CNS photo/Lucas Landau, Reuters

War, with its atrocities and iniquities, aggravates the condition of the weakest and most defenseless. In presenting the message, Bishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, recalled first of all the burden of pain and violence that the conflict in Ukraine produces and that forms the backdrop to the text of the Pope. At the center is the invitation to keep our gaze on Jesus Christ who, as the title says, "became poor for you".

Far from all rhetoric, the faith must be practiced and witnessed with responsibility and fullness, without delegation. Three are the key passages of Francis' message, identified by Fisichella: the rejection of all laxity or indifference, poisoned fruits of an exacerbated secularism ("the dream of indifference"), homily of november 29, 2020); the vigilance of charity, without which one cannot be a Christian; sharing with those who have nothing, for which "the poor is a brother who reaches out to me so that I may awaken from the lethargy into which I have fallen". 

The Christian meaning of money

Money cannot become an absolute, we cannot end up dazzled by the idol of wealth for an ephemeral and unsuccessful life: an attitude - the Pope accuses - that prevents us from looking realistically at daily life and clouds our vision, preventing us from seeing the needs of others".

On the contrary, support for those who are in difficulty is a Christian duty that must be honored without a welfarist behavior, "as is often the case", but by committing oneself "so that no one lacks what is necessary". For this reason, it is urgent to find new ways to overcome the approach of those social policies "conceived as a policy towards the poor, but never with the poor, never of the poor and even less part of a project that unites peoples".

Two types of poverty

In the light of faith, moreover, there is a paradox that defines two types of poverty: "The one that kills," Francis writes, "is poverty, the daughter of injustice, exploitation, violence and the unjust distribution of resources. It is desperate poverty, deprived of a future, because it is imposed by a throwaway culture that gives no prospects and no way out".

On the contrary, there is a freedom that liberates: "it is the one that presents itself to us as a responsible choice to lighten the ballast and focus on what is essential. In fact, it is easy to find that sense of dissatisfaction that many experience, because they feel that something important is missing and they go in search of it like aimless wanderers. Anxious to find what can satisfy them, they need to turn to the little ones, to the weak, to the poor in order to finally understand what they really need. The encounter with the poor puts an end to so many anxieties and insubstantial fears".

The example is Charles de Foucauld, the expression to make it ours is from St. John Chrysostom: "If you cannot believe that poverty makes you rich, think of your Lord and stop doubting it". If he had not been poor, you would not be rich; this is extraordinary, that out of poverty came abundant riches. Paul means here by 'riches' the knowledge of godliness, cleansing from sins, righteousness, sanctification, and a thousand other good things that have been given to us now and always. All this we have because of poverty".

World Day of the Poor

On November 13, the Pope will preside at the celebration of the Holy Eucharist in St. Peter's Basilica, with the participation of thousands of poor people, assisted by the various volunteer associations present in Rome. Referring to the 2021 Day, Fisichella recalled how Pope Francis wanted to dedicate special attention to the Family Homes present in the territory of the Diocese of Rome, thanks also to the generosity of the supermarket chains Elite, Antico Molino and Pastificio La Molisana, with the delivery of a stock of food and personal care products, especially products for early childhood, enough for more than two months.

Supplies were also delivered to some parishes and charitable organizations. Another initiative involved the distribution of 5,000 "kits" of basic health and personal care aids to some 60 parishes in Rome, which then distributed them to the neediest families.

In addition to assistance through the distribution of food and medicine, the World Day of the Poor last year was also marked, Fisichella concluded, by another initiative made possible by the generosity of UnipolSai. For some 500 families with financial difficulties, it was possible to meet the payment of gas and electricity bills. These expenses place a burden on families who, in order to access these services, often miss out on food or other medical expenses, as Pope Francis denounced in Message 2021: "Some countries are suffering very serious consequences from the pandemic, so that the most vulnerable people are deprived of basic necessities. The long lines in front of soup kitchens are a tangible sign of this deterioration."

The authorAntonino Piccione

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