Stretch forth your hand to the poor

Dear all,

we are almost ready to live the 4th World Day of the Poor, which will be celebrated on November 15th. We will get it at the end of an extraordinarily year full of emotions. The pandemic has shaken and questioned us, highlighting a universal fragility: we are all poor under this sky. Poverty is the distinctive feature of our being men and women of the third millennium; solidarity and compassion are the only way to re-humanize this society.


The letter that the Holy Father wrote to us in preparation for this event – «Stretch forth your hand to the poor» (Sir 7,32) – is a clear invitation to evangelical concreteness and contains precious stimuli for reflection, provocations that invite for a conversion to a faith more and more concrete. Here are a few.


The first indication is that prayer and solidarity, worship and charity, are inseparable. There is no worship pleasing to God that doesn’t open the believer’s heart and doesn’t bring attention to the poor. A cult that aimed at itself is sterile and doesn’t lead to God. Covid19 has shown us how our communities, temporarily deprived of the liturgy, have remained alive precisely in attention to the least, as a liturgy of love and praise. In serving the poor and in sharing we have found the roots of our Christian identity.


The second indication is that Charity is the Christian’s breath, it’s in his heartbeat, it circulates in his veins. It’s not «something to do», but a permanent existential dimension. The Christian is called «to be charity», not «to give charity»: this opens a reflection on how we manage our goods, on how our families are able to open up to those in need, on how we strive to sow Hope around us.


The third indication is that Charity cannot be delegated to othersor “to some of us”, but challenges the entire community of believers, in each of its members and in the assembly. Our communities are called to place human frailties at the centre of their lives; to gather around those who live the trial of suffering, illness, failure, poverty, migration; to announce Hope to those who have lost it.


The fourth is that Charity carries with it the responsibility of putting ourselves on the side of the poor, shouting in his name, promoting actions of social justice that give everyone the same opportunities and ask everyone for responsibility. It‘s a call to recover a “political” dimension, in the highest sense of the expression: the Church has in face of her the model of the heavenly Jerusalem, in which there are no marginalized and afflicted, forgotten and alone people.


Finally, the fifth indication concerns the announcement of Charity we experienced. The Good that is done every day must be communicated, put into circulation, witnessed, because Charity asks to be announced, promoted, infected. In this way it will be possible to be witnesses of Christian Hope. Our communities, where too often bad news and gossip circulate, must – today more than ever – grow in this skill: to speak of the Good, to witness the emotions that the service of the least ones offers us.


The pandemic – as Pope Francis writes – has helped us to mature that “we need a new sense of fraternity, for mutual help and esteem. 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…”.


“«Stretch forth your hand to the poor» – continues the Holy Father -is thus a summons to responsibility and commitment as men and women who are part of our one human family. It encourages us to bear the burdens of the weakest”.