“Stretch forth your hand to the poor”

PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Piquero-Ballescas - The Freeman

The series of typhoons that battered areas of Luzon left many more poor and left the poor even poorer than ever.

Hungry, homeless, without any means to survive. Will these more numerous and poorer poor ever see the sun? Amidst the pandemic and disasters, can the poor even look to tomorrow beyond yesterday and today?

Pope Francis calls on all to “stretch forth your hand to the poor” (Sir 7:32). This is his message for the Fourth World Day of the Poor observed this 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, November 15, 2020.

Some valuable excerpts from this Sunday’s message of Pope Francis:

“The excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own” (Evangelii Gaudium, 54).

“Stretch forth your hand to the poor.

“This timely reminder challenges the attitude of those who prefer to keep their hands in their pockets and to remain unmoved by situations of poverty in which they are often complicit. Indifference and cynicism are their daily food.

“These words help us fix our gaze on what is essential and overcome the barriers of indifference. Poverty always appears in a variety of guises, and calls for attention to each particular situation. In all of these, we have an opportunity to encounter the Lord Jesus, who has revealed himself as present in the least of his brothers and sisters (Mt 25:40).

“Sirach who wrote during a time of severe testing for Israel, a time of suffering, grief and poverty due to foreign powers insisted that even amid hardship, we must continue to trust in God: “Do not be alarmed when disaster comes. Cling to him and do not leave him, so that you may be honored at the end of your days. Trust him and he will uphold you, follow a straight path and hope in him. You who fear the Lord, wait for his mercy; do not turn aside in case you fall” (2:2-7).

“Prayer to God and solidarity with the poor and suffering are inseparable. To perform an act of worship acceptable to the Lord, we have to recognize that each person, even the poorest and most contemptible, is made in the image of God.

“Time devoted to prayer can never become an alibi for neglecting our neighbor in need.

“Generosity that supports the weak, consoles the afflicted, relieves suffering and restores dignity to those stripped of it, is a condition for a fully human life. The power of God’s grace cannot be restrained by the selfish tendency to put ourselves always first.

“The poor are and always will be with us to help us welcome Christ’s presence into our daily lives (cf. Jn 12:8).

“How can we help to eliminate or at least alleviate their marginalization and suffering and help them in their spiritual need?

“The Christian community is called to be involved in this kind of sharing that cannot be delegated to others. We cannot feel “alright” when any member of the human family is left behind and in the shadows.

“The silent cry of so many poor men, women and children should find the people of God at the forefront, always and everywhere, in efforts to give them a voice, to protect and support them in the face of hypocrisy and so many unfulfilled promises, and to invite them to share in the life of the community.”


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