The Vatican

Pope reminds us that "the poor have much to teach us".

In his message for the 2024 World Day of the Poor Pope Francis wants Catholics to make the prayer of the poor their own.

Paloma López Campos-June 13, 2024-Reading time: 3 minutes
World Day of the Poor

The Pope greets a woman and children during a meal at the 2023 World Day of the Poor (CNS photo / Vatican Media).

On November 17, 2024, the Catholic Church celebrates the World Day of the Poor. On the occasion of this date, the Sala Stampa has published the message Pope Francis, who on this occasion focuses on the prayer of the poor.

The Holy Father begins his message by saying that "Christian hope also embraces the certainty that our prayer reaches the presence of God". But the prayer that God listens to most attentively is "the prayer of the poor". For this reason, the Pontiff considers that prayer is a "way to enter into communion with them [the poor] and to share their suffering".

Drawing on the book of Sirach, Pope Francis underlines "the fact that the poor have a privileged place in God's heart, so that, in the face of their suffering, God is 'impatient' until he has done them justice."

The poor, faces of Christ

The Bishop of Rome goes even further and affirms that "God knows the sufferings of his children because he is an attentive and caring Father to all". And, "as a Father, he cares for those who need him most".

In the face of God's care, "the human mentality demands to become someone, to have prestige in spite of everything and everyone, breaking social rules in order to gain wealth". Something that Francis denounces saying that "happiness is not acquired by trampling on the rights and dignity of others".

It is therefore important for Christians to remind the world that every poor and vulnerable person "bears the face of the Son of God, and our solidarity and the sign of Christian charity must reach each of them. In this line, the Pope quotes the apostolic exhortation "Evangelii gaudium": "Every Christian and every community are called to be instruments of God for the liberation and promotion of the poor, so that they can be fully integrated into society; this presupposes that we are docile and attentive to listen to the cry of the poor and come to their aid".

Considering the Year of Prayer, the Pontiff says that "we need to make the prayer of the poor our own and pray with them". At the same time, he qualifies the accompaniment of the poor as "a challenge that we must welcome and a pastoral action that needs to be nourished".

The prayer of the poor

To achieve this goal, the Pope assures us that we need "a humble heart that has the courage to become a beggar. A heart willing to recognize itself as poor and needy. Only in this way, Francis continues, does one "receive strength from God and place all one's trust in him. This is how humility is achieved, which "generates the confidence that God will never abandon us nor leave us without an answer.

The Pope also sends a message "to the poor who live in our cities and are part of our communities". He assures them that "God is attentive to each one of you and is at your side. He does not forget you, nor could he ever do so".

For this reason, the Bishop of Rome considers that this World Day "is already an obligatory appointment for every ecclesial community. It is a pastoral opportunity not to be underestimated, because it encourages all believers to listen to the prayer of the poor, becoming aware of their presence and their need".

In this regard, the Pope is grateful for the work of all those people who are already aware of this, "priests, consecrated persons, lay men and women who by their witness give voice to God's answer to the prayer of those who turn to Him."

Prayer and charity

Francis also points out what the poor teach us. He says that "the poor still have much to teach because, in a culture that has put wealth first and often sacrifices the dignity of persons on the altar of material goods, they row against the tide, showing that what is essential is something else".

The Pope concludes his message by explaining that prayer needs works, and works need prayer. He gives the example of St. Teresa of Calcutta, who knew how to support herself on these two pillars. Following in her footsteps, imitating Christ and leaning on the Virgin Mary, the Holy Father encourages every Catholic to be a "pilgrim of hope" and to take care of "the small details of love". In this way, we will respond to the universal call to "be friends of the poor".

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