By Linda Bordoni
Pope Francis on Sunday said the poor remind us of how we should live the Gospel: “like beggars reaching out to God.”
Marking the 3rd World Day of the Poor with Holy Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica in the presence of poor people from the city of Rome accompanied by volunteers who assist the homeless and the most needy, the Pope said the poor “facilitate our access to heaven”, “they are the treasure of the Church.”
The Church has celebrated the World Day of the Poor on the 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time since 2017. Pope Francis established the commemoration in his Apostolic Letter, Misericordia et Misera, to celebrate the end of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.
During his homily, the Holy Father reflected on the liturgical reading of the day and on how it speaks to a world in which there are fewer and fewer certitudes.
Jesus, he said, tells us that almost everything will pass away, but not everything, and he explained that “what will collapse and pass away are the penultimate things, not the ultimate ones: the temple, not God; kingdoms and human events, not humanity itself”.
What really counts in life
The Pope said that things that often appear definitive to mankind are not always so, and he invited believers to always bear in mind that the Living God “is infinitely greater than any temple we build for him”, and that the human person, our neighbour, “is worth more than all the news reports of the world”.
“So, to help us realize what really counts in life, Jesus warns us about two temptations,” he said.
The temptation of haste
Pope Francis said the first is the temptation of haste, of the right now and he warned against those who tell us that the end is coming immediately, that “the time is at hand.”
“How often,” he said, “do we let ourselves be seduced by a frantic desire to know everything right now, by the itch of curiosity, by the latest sensational or scandalous news, by lurid stories, by the screaming those who shout loudest and angriest, by those who tell us it is “now or never”. This haste, this everything right now, does not come from God”.
Drawn by the latest outcry, he continued, we no longer find time for God or for our brother and sister living next door, and he warned against the frenzy and haste of achieving everything immediately and considering those who are left behind as a disposable nuisance.
“How many elderly, unborn, disabled and poor persons are considered useless. We go our way in haste, without worrying that gaps are increasing, that the greed of a few is adding to the poverty of many others,” he said.
The Pope said that as an antidote to haste, Jesus proposes to each of us perseverance, which he explained, entails moving forward each day with our eyes fixed on what does not pass away: “the Lord and our neighbour”.
The temptation of self-centredness
Pope Francis then went on to warn us against the temptation of self-centredness saying that Christians are not concerned with the me but with the you.
True Christians, he explained, follow the call of love and speak the language of Jesus which is the language of the you.
“Those who speak the language of Jesus are not the ones who say I, but rather the ones who step out of themselves,” he said, reiterating that “the word of God spurs us to a genuine love to give to those who cannot repay us, to serve others without seeking anything in return.”
Let us ask ourselves, the Pope said: “Do I help someone who has nothing to give me in return? Do I, a Christian, have at least one poor person as a friend”?
The poor do not speak the language of the self
The Pope said “the poor are valuable in the eyes of God because they do not speak the language of the self: they do not support themselves on their own, by their own strength; they need someone to take them by the hand. The poor remind us how we should live the Gospel: like beggars reaching out to God”.
“Instead of feeling annoyed when they knock on our doors, he continued, “let us welcome their cry for help as a summons to go out of ourselves, to welcome them with God’s own loving gaze”.
It is standing with the poor, he explained, serving the poor, that we see things as Jesus does: “we see what remains and what passes away”.
The poor lead us straight to God
Pope Francis concluded noting that amid so many penultimate and passing realities, what is ultimate and will remain forever is love, “for God is love,” and he reiterated that “the poor person who begs for my love leads me straight to God”.
“The poor facilitate our access to heaven,” he said, “they are our treasure, the treasure of the Church. For the poor reveal to us the riches that never grow old, that unite heaven and earth, the riches for which life is truly worth living: the riches of love”.