Reflections on Pope Francis’s Message on the World Day of the Poor.
On November 19th, in the 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, the first World Day of the Poor will be celebrated by the entire Catholic Church and by men of good will, which Pope Francis had already announced at the end of the Jubilee of Mercy. On that day as a sign of sharing, after having celebrated the Mass in St. Peter the Pope will invite 500 poor people to lunch in the Paul VI Hall, the audience hall bearing the name of the great pope of Populorum Progressio. The previous day (Saturday 18) there will be a Prayer Vigil in the Church of St. Lawrence outside the Walls, to remember the Roman martyr who recognized the poor as a true treasure in the church.
“I invite the whole Church, and men and women of good will everywhere, to turn their gaze on this day to all those who stretch out their hands and plead for our help and solidarity. They are our brothers and sisters, created and loved by the one Heavenly Father. “(Message for the World Day of the Poor to No. 6).
“We do not love in words, but with facts” is the title of Pope Francis’s first message for this day. The Pope speaks of “a thousand faces marked by suffering, marginalization, oppression, violence, torture and imprisonment, war, deprivation of freedom and dignity, ignorance and illiteracy, medical emergencies and shortage of work, trafficking and slavery, exile, extreme poverty and forced migration.“(n. 5).
It is not surprising the fleeting attention, even within the Church, to the proclamation of this world day. Not surprising but bitter, and we are all called to react strongly to indifference to the poor.
Those who have a lot of money and a lot of security are likely to live like the “carefree of Zion” spoken by the prophet Amos, and a whole world is being built, and even if there are thousands of Lazarus at his door, he does not even realize. The rich man of our years sometimes finds out and then makes some alms for the poor, gives some old dress that no longer puts, even though it does not have the Lazarus disorder at its door.
In all the Catholic Church, the parable of rich man is often read but tomorrow Lazarus will be as it is today without any changes. Unfortunately, Jesus’ message has often been imprisoned in the system and we have made it a little harmless; the message doesn’t affects our real life. This is the abyss of which the Gospel speaks. We also all see that the abyss between the Lazarus and the rich man has widened and is widening to a great extent.
We have for centuries determined that we cannot allow the promiscuity between those who are inside and those who are out. Lazarus must be out of the system and from our cities, using the Bible expression, out from the camp. Lazarus then is not only excluded but must also be convinced that it is normal so and that is right. Exclusion affects him in consciousness.
Our society, however, says that it is inspired by the great principles of Christianity, the Enlightenment, and the Democracy, and then it tries to accept (perhaps not truly) Lazarus the excluded, but it fails, because it should review its own principles constituent. Immigrants are the Lazarus of the twenty-first century and we only know how to widen the moat.
Christians and all humanity do not forget that God is on the side of the Lazarus, indeed God in this world is Lazarus. Jesus went among the uncleanness to teach them to stop being unclean, and looking at our cities and our system Jesus explained that the real Lazarus, the real immoderate, is our system. This is the Christian Revolution. Jesus came to wake the conscience of the excluded because they ceased to be considered legally excluded, because they know that dignity is their inalienable right. The system then tried to tame Jesus by “promoting him” as a guardian of the order, failing because He went against a system that excludes, rebellion against political, religious and economic power. For this reason he has been crucified as a Lazarus any: “As a criminal you have hung on a wood” says Peter in the first speech after Pentecost. The Beatitudes tell us that the Lazarus have already won in Christ their battle of dignity. They are meeting us now, and they are millions. They do not want to destroy, but tell us the Word of Salvation that was entrusted to them. Blessed the Poor because yours is the Kingdom of God will tell Jesus. Yours is the secret of life.
Riches are not an end, but an instrument in the hands of men. Often riches have become an iniquitous tool because man has used it to dominate other men and subjugate entire peoples to control some elites. We have arrived in history even to the planned and calculated extermination of the poor, as the prophet Amos recalls. Thanks to God, the cultural progress of peoples is favoring a growing awareness of the need for a fairer distribution of the riches of the planet. Some international organizations and some of the more developed nations are struggling for new social equilibrium, but the battle is still very long and difficult. Jesus invites his disciples to be “shrewd” in the use of riches. He asks for each of us a different relationship with riches both individually and in community. For this reason, the private gesture of alms no longer suffices; we need to act so that wealth can become an instrument of liberation and reconciliation among peoples; this is the concreteness of the gospel, which by its nature is a social fact. History teaches us that not a few have moved away from the Church and the faith because they have received a bad testimony in the use of money and wealth. We are witnessing these years as Christians and citizens of the world with two very important facts. Pope Francis is witnessing the concrete possibility of a poor Church for the poor, and it is an extraordinary gift from the Lord, an example that stimulates us for new conversion. Moreover, at the same time, we are witnessing the fact that many poor people are – we would say so-resuming the gospel, often hidden behind them, in words of circumstance and humiliating alms. The poor today are aware that the gospel is first and foremost for them, and are no longer willing to wait for their rights and dignity. We carefully read and meditate in this regard the prophetic words of Don Primo Mazzolari, a poor priest among the poor to whom Pope Francis will honor, praying on his grave in a few days: “I have never counted the poor because the poor cannot count; the poor embrace, they do not count. Yet there are those who keep the statistics of the poor, and they are afraid; Fear of a patience that can also be tired, afraid of a silence that could become a scream, afraid of a lament that could become a song, afraid of their rags that could become a flag, fear of their tools that could be barricaded. ” This is already happening.