Christians must not underestimate the importance of embracing and assisting the poor, oppressed and outcast, Pope Francis said yesterday. Source: CNS.
Not only did Jesus entrust his disciples with the task of continuing his ministry on earth by giving hope to the poor, but “the credibility of our proclamation and the witness of Christians depends on it,” the Pope said in a message released for the World Day of the Poor, to be held later this year.
“Faced with countless throngs of the poor, Jesus was not afraid to identify with each of them” and tell his disciples “whatever you did to one of the least of these my brethren, you did to me,” the Pope said.
“If we refuse to make this identification, we falsify the Gospel and water down God’s revelation,” he said.
“If the disciples of the Lord Jesus wish to be genuine evangelisers, they must sow tangible seeds of hope,” he said in the message, released by the Vatican yesterday on the feast of St Anthony of Padua, patron saint of the poor.
The World Day of the Poor — marked each year on the 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time — will be celebrated November 17 this year and, based on Psalm 9:19, will focus on “The hope of the poor shall not perish forever.”
The commemoration and the period of reflection and action preceding it are meant to encourage Christians and people of goodwill “to cooperate effectively so that no one will feel deprived of closeness and solidarity,” the Pope said in the message.
Outlining some of the many old and “new forms of bondage that enslave” people in seriously unjust economic or social situations, the Pope asked how people could continue to ignore or not be moved by the plight of these people.
The exploited, unemployed, refugees, orphans, minors brutally torn from their parents, people violated in prostitution or by narcotics, immigrants and the homeless all can end up becoming “part of a human garbage bin; they are treated as refuse, without the slightest sense of guilt on the part of those who are complicit in this scandal”.