Sometimes we wish we were among those who walked with Jesus 2000 years ago. Pope Francis boldly says… even today we do walk with them.
“Believers, when they want to see Jesus in person and touch him with their hands, know where to turn. The poor are a sacrament of Christ; they represent his person and point to him.”
In his message, the pope asks us two questions: do we see the poor and what do we see in them?
Do we see (the poor) as lost people, or worse, as people whom we judge to be responsible for their condition?
There seems to be a growing notion that the poor are not only responsible for their condition, but that they represent an intolerable burden for an economic system focused on the interests of a few privileged groups.
A market that ignores ethical principles, or picks and chooses from among them, creates inhumane conditions for people already in precarious situations.
We are now seeing the creation of new traps of poverty and exclusion, set by unscrupulous economic and financial actors lacking in a humanitarian sense and in social responsibility.
Or do we see them as those through whom the Gospel, the good news, comes?”
Evangelized by those who are poor
Pope Francis believes… “the poor are true evangelizers” Those who follow Vincent DePaul today certainly recognize the phrase.
The poor, always and everywhere, evangelize us, because they enable us to discover in new ways the true face of the Father. “They have much to teach us. … they know the suffering Christ through their own sufferings. It is necessary that we all let ourselves be evangelized by them.
As a young French priest put it…
The poor point us to the heart of our faith, the paschal mystery.
Jesus’ death on the cross is first of all an experience of injustice and contempt, like the cross that weighs on them.
Jesus suffers because he is “counted for nothing”, as Peter says in the Acts of the Apostles.
He accepts to be attached to the cross of the poor, which must seize us in the bowels.
At the same time, the breath of the resurrection also comes into our world through the poor.
They have a capacity to seek the life that passes through death, the light that passes through the darkness.
Pope Francis believes…
We are called to discover Christ in them, to lend them our voice in their causes, but also to be their friends, to listen to them, to understand them and to welcome the mysterious wisdom that God wants to communicate to us through them.
A fundamental question
The fundamental question to ask ourselves in the Church is: do we want to join their struggle? Francis stresses moving from charity to sharing…
Sharing our goods, our time with the poor is important. But, in the attitude of giving alms to the poor, we are still focused on what comes from us.
On the other hand, when it comes to sharing their struggle, we allow ourselves to be moved toward what they will share with us.
Many will hear the echoes of St. Vincent when Francis preaches at the World Day of the Poor Mass…
“Unless our hope translates into decisions and concrete gestures of concern, justice, solidarity and care for our common home, the sufferings of the poor will not be relieved, the economy of waste that forces them to live on the margins will not be converted, their expectations will not blossom anew”
- What can those who are poor teach you?
- Will you join the struggle of the Christ you see in the poor?
Click below for an audio version of this Vincentian Mindwalk