July 22, 2024
News Vatican

Pope: The Lord’s judgment will be in favour of the poor

Pope Francis releases his Message for the eighth World Day of the Poor and reminds the faithful that God sees and cares for each one of them, whereas those who seek wealth to the detriment of the most needy are poor in His eyes.

By Francesca Merlo

“The prayer of the poor rises up to God” is the theme for this year’s World Day of the Poor, celebrated annually on the third Sunday of November. The 2024 edition will be the eighth of its kind after Pope Francis called for the day in 2017 and it comes just as Rome prepares to welcome pilgrims from around the world for the 2025 Jubilee year. In this regard, Pope Francis writes in his message for the World Day, released on 13 June, that “this expression of biblical wisdom is most fitting”.

Christian hope embraces the poor

He explains that “Christian hope embraces the certainty that our prayer reaches God’s presence; not just any prayer but rather the prayer of the poor!”  So, as the year of anticipation for the Jubilee draws to a close, the Holy Father urges the faithful to reflect on this word and “read” it on the faces and in the stories of the poor whom we encounter daily, “so that prayer can become a path of communion with them and a sharing in their suffering”.

Prayer in the Book of Sirach

The expression that gives the 2024 World Day of the Poor its theme is taken from the Book of Sirach, which Pope Francis says is not sufficiently known and deserves to be discovered for the richness of its themes.

One of these themes is prayer. The author, Ben Sira, a teacher and scribe from the 2nd Century BC, gives personal experience to his voice, and he does so successfully, says the Pope, as “no writing on prayer can be effective and fruitful if it does not stem from someone who stands daily in God’s presence and listens to his Word”.  In fact, Ben Sira himself declared that he sought wisdom from his prayers.

On this journey, he discovered that the poor hold a privileged place in God’s heart. “God knows the sufferings of his children because he is an attentive and caring father,” said the Pope. “As a father, he takes care of those who are most in need: the poor, the marginalised, the suffering and the forgotten. No one is excluded from His heart, for in His eyes, we are all poor and needy”. 

The unfortunate mentality of our days

Pope Francis goes on to note that unfortunately, the mentality that governs the world today asks of us that we become somebody and make a name for ourselves “at any cost”, But, Pope Francis warns, “Happiness cannot be acquired by trampling on the rights and dignity of others”.

The violence caused by wars clearly shows the arrogance of those who consider themselves to be powerful before men and women, says the Pope, adding that however, the truth is that “they are poor in the eyes of God”. 

“How many more people are impoverished by misguided policies involving weapons!  How many innocent victims!  Yet we cannot turn our backs to this reality”. 

As we think of these horrific realities, in this year dedicated to prayer, we “need to make the prayer of the poor our own and pray together with them”, says the Pope.

The Lord’s judgement will be in favour of the poor

Addressing the poor directly, the Pope says not to lose the certainty that “God is attentive to each of you and is close to you”. As the book of Sirach asserts, “the Lord’s judgment will be in favour of the poor” and from poverty, therefore, “the song of the most genuine hope can spring up”. 

Pope Francis goes on to express his gratitude for the World Day that has become a fixture for every ecclesial community. “It is a pastoral opportunity not to be underestimated” and an “occasion to implement initiatives that concretely help the poor”. For this, he added, “We must thank the Lord for the people who make themselves available to listen to and support the poorest among us”.

There can be no charity without prayer

Bringing his message to a close, Pope Francis explains that prayer is verified by authentic charity that manifests itself as encounter and proximity. “If prayer does not translate into concrete action, it is in vain; indeed, “faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead”. However, he concludes, “charity without prayer risks becoming philanthropy that soon exhausts itself”.

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