Sunday, November 18
By Kayla Jackson
This 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time marks the second annual World Day of the Poor. Pope Francis urged that the Catholic Church dedicate one day each year to reflecting on the ways in which, “poverty is at the very heart of the Gospel.” On the most basic and literal level poverty is, indeed, at the very heart of the Gospel. The words poverty and poor appear in scripture over 2000 times. Even so, it was the poor and marginalized with whom Jesus chose to associate himself, and it was through these interactions that God’s great love and mercy were ultimately made known.
In this year’s message, Pope Francis reflects on Psalm 34:7, “This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him.” Throughout salvation history, it is unmistakable that God hears and answers the cries of the poor, but Francis presents us with an essential question. Are we truly capable of hearing the cries of the poor? It surely becomes difficult to do so when we live in a society where we are encouraged to distance ourselves; a society which strips the poor and marginalized of their voices.
Pope Francis invites us to rediscover our “capacity for togetherness,” and World Day of the Poor is an opportunity to start. We are called to encounter and accompany our brothers and sisters not only this day, but every day. Several organizations, including Catholic Relief Services, provide various ways to enter in and begin the journey this World Day of the Poor:
HERE ARE 5 WAYS YOU CAN OBSERVE THE WORLD DAY OF THE POOR:
1. PRAY FOR THE POOR.
There are so many people who need our prayers. If you’re overwhelmed and not sure where to start, try praying with your newsfeed. As you see headlines about what’s happening around the world, pause and pray for the people affected by those stories.
2. LEARN ABOUT THE CAUSES OF POVERTY AND WORK TO CHANGE THEM.
There are many reasons why people around the world are trapped in poverty: lack of jobs, war, and climate change that affects what farmers can grow are only a few examples. We can raise our voices together to ask our government to support policies that help address these causes of poverty. Advocate on behalf of people who are hungry and living in poverty by sending a letter to your Representatives and Senators in Congress at support.crs.org/act/nourish-change-13.
3. SUPPORT THE CHURCH’S OUTREACH TO THE POOR.
One way to care for the poor around the world is to support the work of Catholic Relief Services, the international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. CRS is motivated by the example of Jesus Christ to assist poor and suffering people in more than 100 countries. Go to crs.org/ways-to-give to help our brothers and sisters in need.
4. MAKE CARING FOR THE POOR PART OF YOUR ROUTINE.
Do you buy coffee, chocolate, or Christmas gifts? One way to support low-income workers around the world is by buying things you use on a regular basis from organizations that pay a fair wage. If you drink coffee or tea, look for a fair trade label, which means that the farmers who harvest the coffee or tea are paid fairly and work in safe conditions. As you begin your Christmas shopping, consider buying gifts from around the world that are produced and traded ethically.
You can find a list of ethical companies at ethicaltrade.crs.org/guide.
5. PRACTICE THE CORPORAL WORKS OF MERCY.
The Corporal Works of Mercy are drawn from Jesus’ life and teachings. They call us to: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, shelter the homeless, visit the sick and imprisoned, bury the dead and give alms to the poor. Pope Francis added a new work of mercy: to care for God’s creation. The Corporal Works of Mercy offer a clear model and starting point for how to care for our neighbors in need.