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In his annual reflection for the World Day of the Poor (11/15/2020) Pope Francis urges “Stretch forth your hand to the poor” (Sir 7:32). Today these words remain as timely as ever. They help us fix our eyes on what is essential to overcome the barriers of indifference.

Thoughts that caught my attention..

I have skipped over the powerful contrasts of “hands stretched out” and “hands kept in one’s pockets”. They are well worth reading.

  • Prayer to God and solidarity with the poor and suffering are inseparable. In order 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. In fact the very opposite is true: the Lord’s blessing descends upon us and prayer attains its goal when accompanied by service to the poor.
  • The decision to care for the poor, for their many different needs, cannot be conditioned by the time available or by private interests, or by impersonal pastoral or social projects.
  • Encountering the poor and those in need constantly challenges us and forces us to think.
  • How can we help to eliminate or at least alleviate their marginalization and suffering?
  • How can we help them in their spiritual need?
  • 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.
  • The Church certainly has no comprehensive solutions to propose, but by the grace of Christ, she can offer her witness and her gestures of charity.
  • She likewise feels compelled to speak out on behalf of those who lack life’s basic necessities.
  • This (pandemic) has challenged many of our assumptions.
  •  We feel poorer and less self-sufficient because we have come to sense our limitations and the restriction of our freedom. The loss of employment, and of opportunities to be close to our loved ones and our regular acquaintances, suddenly opened our eyes to horizons that we had long since taken for granted.
  • We came to realize how much we need a new sense of fraternity, for mutual help and esteem.
  • Now is a good time to recover “the conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world…
  • We have had enough of immorality and the mockery of ethics, goodness, faith, and honesty…
  • In a word, until we revive our sense of responsibility for our neighbor and for every person, grave economic, financial and political crises will continue.
  • This (pandemic) has made us all the more aware of the presence of the poor in our midst and their need for help. Structures of charity, works of mercy, cannot be improvised. Constant organization and training is needed, based on the realization of our own need for an outstretched hand.

Which of these thoughts caught you attention?

PS He concludes with a prayerful reflection on Mary

In this journey of daily encounter with the poor, the Mother of God is ever at our side. More than any other, she is the Mother of the Poor. The Virgin Mary knows well the difficulties and sufferings of the marginalized, for she herself gave birth to the Son of God in a stable. Due to the threat of Herod, she fled to another country with Joseph her spouse and the child Jesus. For several years, the Holy Family lived as refugees.

May our prayer to Mary, Mother of the Poor, unite these, her beloved children, with all those who serve them in Christ’s name. And may that prayer enable outstretched hands to become an embrace of shared and rediscovered fraternity.

Click below for and audio version of this Vincentian Mindwalk…