Pope Francis: A different approach to poverty

PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Piquero Ballescas (The Freeman) - June 17, 2021 - 12:00am

In his June 13 message for the 5th World Day of the Poor, Pope Francis shared these valuable reflection points.

“When Jesus said “the poor you will always have with you” (Mk 14:7). Pope Francis explained that Jesus was reminding His disciples that “he is the first of the poor, the poorest of the poor, because he represents all of them.”

Pope Francis also clarified that when Jesus allowed the woman to pour precious ointment, Jesus did so “for the sake of the poor, the lonely, the marginalized and the victims of discrimination” and that Jesus associated that woman ”with the great mission of evangelization.”

“The poor are true evangelizers, for they were the first to be evangelized and called to share in the Lord’s joy and his kingdom (cf. Mt 5:3). Always and everywhere, “the poor, evangelize us, because they enable us to discover in new ways the true face of the Father. They know the suffering Christ through their own sufferings. It is necessary that we all let ourselves be evangelized by them.”

Pope Francis summons all not to be indifferent to the poor who “are not people “outside” our communities, but brothers and sisters whose sufferings we should share and strive to alleviate from their difficulties, marginalization, their lost dignity and ensure their necessary social inclusion.”

Pope Francis emphasizes involvement and “mutual sharing which generates fraternity, which is enduring, which strengthens solidarity and lays the necessary foundations for achieving justice unlike almsgiving that is occasional or acts of charity that presuppose a giver and a receiver.”

Contrary to the growing notion that “the poor are responsible for their condition and represent an intolerable burden for an economic system focused on the interests of a few privileged groups,” Pope Francis, instead, hit hard on “a market that ignores ethical principles, or picks and chooses from among them, creates inhumane conditions for people already in precarious situations.

Pope Francis asks -- how can we give a tangible response to the millions of the poor who frequently encounter indifference, resentment, so that social inequalities can be overcome and human dignity, often trampled, restored? “Individualistic lifestyles are complicit in generating poverty, and often saddle the poor with responsibility for their condition. Poverty is not the result of fate; it is the result of selfishness.”

“The rich might be relieved by the wealth of the poor if only they could meet and get to know each other! None are so poor that they cannot give something of themselves in mutual exchange. The poor cannot be only those who receive- they often teach us about solidarity and sharing. They may be people who lack some things, often many things, including the bare necessities, yet they do not lack everything, for they retain the dignity of God’s children that nothing and no one can take away from them.”

“Governments and world institutions need to have a different approach to poverty, a farsighted social model capable of countering the new forms of poverty that are now sweeping the world and will decisively affect coming decades.”

“With great humility, we should confess that we are often incompetent when it comes to the poor. We talk about them in the abstract; we stop at statistics, at filming a documentary. Poverty should motivate us to creative planning, aimed at increasing the freedom needed to live a life of fulfillment according to the abilities of each person.”

“The poor always with us is a summons never to lose sight of every opportunity to do good, “to embrace, not merely counting the poor” not by giving alms, but by opposing the culture of indifference and injustice we have created with regard to the poor.”

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