By Fr. Paul Robson sj
This Sunday, the Catholic Church observes the World Day of the Poor. Today is the third such Day, as this yearly observance was started by Pope Francis in 2017.
In Jesus’ parable about the rich man and Lazarus, it is suggested that the poor have received bad things in this life, but will receive good things in the next life. While this is true, there is also a sense in which poor people already have good things in this life. In his message for this year’s World Day of the Poor, Pope Francis quotes Psalm 10. In this psalm, we read: “the helpless commit themselves to you.” If it is the poor, rather than the rich, who turn to God and trust in God, then we can say that it is the poor who
are in the better position.
Furthermore, the Pope and the Psalmist suggest that God wants to alleviate, and is working toward alleviating, the present sufferings of the poor. The poor can hope for God’s help and for better things not only in the next life, but in this one. And one way that God helps the poor in this life is through those who are not poor – those who might help, and spend time with, and love and show respect toward, the poor. Pope Francis writes: “I encourage you to seek, in every poor person whom you encounter, his or her true needs, not to stop at their most obvious material needs, but to discover their inner goodness.”
One further dimension to consider, from the Pope’s message, is the following: “The poor save us because they enable us to encounter the face of Jesus Christ.”