In 2017 Pope Francis started the World Day of the Poor, one Sunday every year when we are asked to focus on those living in poverty. Poverty means to be extremely poor.
Today, on Sunday 15th November 2020, is the fourth World Day of the Poor. This year Pope Francis has made the theme of the day ‘stretch forth your hand to the poor’. This is a line taken from the book of Sirach in the Old Testament.
This is especially poignant during the COVID-19 pandemic, when we have all been separated from each other and many have missed out on the human contact we all need.
In his message for this World Day of the Poor Pope Francis tells us:
‘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’, he says.
‘Until we revive our sense of responsibility for our neighbour and for every person, grave economic, financial and political crises will continue.’
Pope Francis is reminding us here that we should look out for one another and for those less fortunate than us during these difficult times.
Let us take up the Old Testament book of Sirach, in which we find the words of a sage who lived some two hundred years before Christ. He shared his wisdom about how to make people live a better life. He did this at a time of suffering, grief and poverty for the people of Israel. As a man of great faith, rooted in the traditions of his forebears, his first thought was to turn to God and to beg from him the gift of wisdom. The Lord did not refuse his help.
As social distancing continues, we also invite you to think about the other ways you can ‘stretch out’ our hands? How can you reach out to those who are isolated and lonely? Could you send a Christmas card or message of hope to someone living alone, or buy a present for someone who may not receive one otherwise? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.