World Day of the Poor

Leading up to the World Day of the Poor, Catholics are encouraged by Pope Francis “to make tangible the Church’s response to the cry of the poor”.

In a letter to clergy throughout Australia, Bishops Commission for Pastoral Life Chairman Bishop Terence Brady encouraged all Catholic communities to be involved and respond to the theme of day: “This poor man cried and the Lord heard him” (Psalm 34:7).

The World Day of the Poor will be celebrated this year on November 18.

Pope Francis inaugurated the World Day of the Poor at the end of the Jubilee Year of Mercy in 2016. The Pope’s 2018 message was signed on the feast day of St Anthony of Padua (June 13), the patron of the poor.

Pope Francis said: “The World Day of the Poor wishes to be a small answer that the Church throughout the world gives to the poor of every kind and in every land, lest they think that their cry has gone unheard.

“Often I am afraid that many initiatives, by themselves meritorious and necessary, are intended more to please those who undertake them than to really acknowledge the cry of the poor.

“We are so entrapped in a culture which obliges us to look in the mirror and to pamper ourselves that we believe that a gesture of altruism is sufficient without compromising ourselves directly.”

Pope Francis explained poverty “is not brought on by itself, but is caused by selfishness, pride, greed and injustice”.

“Each individual Christian and every community is called to be an instrument of God for the liberation and promotion of the poor, and for enabling them to be fully a part of society,” he said.

“In order to overcome the overwhelming condition of poverty, it is necessary that the poor perceive the presence of brothers and sisters who show concern for them and who, by opening the door of their hearts and lives, make them feel like friends and family.”

Bishop Brady said Pope Francis invites us to make concrete step. “His message contains a very practical suggestion: the sharing of the Sunday meal with the poor,” Bishop Brady suggested.

Pope Francis says: “On this World Day we are invited to give concreteness to the words of the Psalm:

“The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied” (Psalm 22:27). We know that in the Temple of Jerusalem, after the sacrificial rite, a banquet took place. It was this experience which enriched the first World Day of the Poor in many dioceses last year.

“Many people found the warmth of a home, the joy of a celebration meal and the solidarity of those who wished to share the table in a simple and brotherly way. I would like that this year and in the future this World Day be celebrated in the spirit of joy for the rediscovery of our capacity for getting together.

“Praying together as a community and sharing a Sunday meal is an experience which takes us back to the earliest Christian community, described by St. Luke the Evangelist with all his originality and simplicity: “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. […] And all who believed were together and had all things in common; and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need” (Acts 2:42.44-45).” Pope Francis said.

One organisation in the Diocese of  Maitland-Newcastle that regularly feeds those in need is DARA’s Van.

For this year’s World Day of the Poor, why not look into volunteering and taking, as Pope Francis encourages, a concrete step?

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Brooke Robinson Image
Brooke Robinson

Brooke is Content Officer for the Communications Team in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle