Pope Francis suggests to the baptized and to communities, concrete gestures on the occasion of the first World Day of the Poor, established by “Misericordia et Misera” for the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, and which, therefore, will be observed on November 19, 2017.
The Holy Father stressed that this first Message for the First Day is published on June 13, 2017, in the liturgical Memoria of the great Franciscan Doctor of the Church and friend of the poor, Saint Anthony of Padua (1195-1231) — of Lisbon for the Portuguese. Its title is the verse from Saint John: “Let us not love in words but in deeds.”
The Pontiff invites to precede November 19 with a week “of numerous moments of encounter and friendship, solidarity and concrete aid.”
He also suggests that the poor be invited to the Eucharist: “Invite the poor and the volunteers to take part together in the Sunday Eucharist, so that the celebration of the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, is revealed even more genuine the following Sunday.
The Pope asks for genuine “encounters” with the poor of the neighborhoods. “On that Sunday, if poor live in neighborhoods who seek protection and help, we should approach them: it will be a propitious moment to encounter the God that we seek.”
Pope Francis sees in this celebration a true contribution to evangelization: “The poor are not a problem: they are a resource from which one must draw to accept and live the essence of the Gospel.”
It is also an occasion to rediscover the “Our Father” as “the prayer of the poor.”
Just as during the Jubilee of Mercy the Pontiff stressed “works” of mercy, so here he emphasizes the need for concrete love.
For Francis, the poor are “the flesh of Christ” and he stresses the importance of a true “encounter” with them: “If we really want to encounter Christ, it is necessary that we touch His Body in the body of the poor covered with sores, as a response to the sacramental Communion received in the Eucharist. The Body of Christ, broken in the sacred liturgy, lets itself be found again, through shared charity, in the faces and persons of our weakest brothers and sisters.”
More than that, the Pope appeals to the baptized to follow “the poor Christ” by living the evangelical counsel of poverty, in the wake of Francis of Assisi.
What is at stake, is to change history, to make “an effective contribution for the change of history, by promoting a true development; it is necessary to listen to the cry of the poor and to engage ourselves in having them come out of their condition of marginalization,” writes the Pope.
Francis laments the “generalized indifference, because poverty is the “fruit of social injustice, moral misery, the avidity of a minority and of a generalized indifference.”
Pope Francis’ unabridged Message is found on ZENIT here: https://zenit.org/articles/popes-message-for-1st-world-day-of-the-poor/