World Day of the Poor (33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time)

Let us love, not with words but with deeds --- Pope Francis


What is the World Day of the Poor?

  • In his apostolic letter to close the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis suggested the Catholic Church set aside one day each year when communities can “reflect on how poverty is at the very heart of the Gospel.” He designated this day as the “World Day of the Poor.” It will be celebrated on the thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary time (two Sundays before the season of Advent each year). The inaugural World Day of the Poor is Sunday, 19 November 2017. 
  • “It would be a day to help communities and each of the baptized to reflect on how poverty is at the very heart of the Gospel and that, as long as Lazarus lies at the door of our homes (cf. Lk 16:19-21), there can be no justice or social peace. This Day will also represent a genuine form of new evangelization (cf. Mt 11:5) which can renew the face of the Church as She perseveres in her perennial activity of pastoral conversion and witness to mercy.” – Pope Francis 
  • READ: Pope Francis' message for the first World Day of the Poor >

Quotes from Pope Francis' message

  • We know how hard it is for our contemporary world to see poverty clearly for what it is. Yet in myriad ways poverty challenges us daily, in faces marked by suffering, marginalization, oppression, violence, torture and imprisonment, war, deprivation of freedom and dignity, ignorance and illiteracy, medical emergencies and shortage of work, trafficking and slavery, exile, extreme poverty and forced migration. (Pope Francis, Message for World Day of the Poor, n. 5)
  • Poverty has the face of women, men and children exploited by base interests, crushed by the machinations of power and money. What a bitter and endless list we would have to compile were we to add the poverty born of social injustice, moral degeneration, the greed of a chosen few, and generalized indifference! (Pope Francis, Message for World Day of the Poor, n. 5)
  • There is a poverty that stifles the spirit of initiative of so many young people by keeping them from finding work. There is a poverty that dulls the sense of personal responsibility and leaves others to do the work while we go looking for favours. There is a poverty that poisons the wells of participation and allows little room for professionalism; in this way it demeans the merit of those who do work and are productive. To all these forms of poverty we must respond with a new vision of life and society. (Pope Francis, Message for World Day of the Poor, n. 5)
  • All the poor – as Blessed Paul VI loved to say – belong to the Church by “evangelical right” (Address at the Opening of the Second Session of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, 29 September 1963), and require of us a fundamental option on their behalf. Blessed, therefore, are the open hands that embrace the poor and help them: they are hands that bring hope. Blessed are the hands that reach beyond every barrier of culture, religion and nationality, and pour the balm of consolation over the wounds of humanity. Blessed are the open hands that ask nothing in exchange, with no “ifs” or “buts” or “maybes”: they are hands that call down God’s blessing upon their brothers and sisters. (Pope Francis, Message for World Day of the Poor, n. 5)
  • At the conclusion of the Jubilee of Mercy, I wanted to offer the Church a World Day of the Poor, so that throughout the world Christian communities can become an ever greater sign of Christ’s charity for the least and those most in need. To the World Days instituted by my Predecessors, which are already a tradition in the life of our communities, I wish to add this one, which adds to them an exquisitely evangelical fullness, that is, Jesus’ preferential love for the poor. (Pope Francis, Message for World Day of the Poor, n. 6)
  • I invite the whole Church, and men and women of good will everywhere, to turn their gaze on this day to all those who stretch out their hands and plead for our help and solidarity. They are our brothers and sisters, created and loved by the one Heavenly Father. This Day is meant, above all, to encourage believers to react against a culture of discard and waste, and to embrace the culture of encounter. (Pope Francis, Message for World Day of the Poor, n. 6)
  • It is my wish that, in the week preceding the World Day of the Poor, which falls this year on 19 November, the Thirty-third Sunday of Ordinary Time, Christian communities will make every effort to create moments of encounter and friendship, solidarity and concrete assistance. They can invite the poor and volunteers to take part together in the Eucharist on this Sunday, in such a way that there be an even more authentic celebration of the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King, on the following Sunday. (Pope Francis, Message for World Day of the Poor, n. 7)
  • At the heart of all the many concrete initiatives carried out on this day should always be prayer. Let us not forget that the Our Father is the prayer of the poor. Our asking for bread expresses our entrustment to God for our basic needs in life. Everything that Jesus taught us in this prayer expresses and brings together the cry of all who suffer from life’s uncertainties and the lack of what they need. When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, he answered in the words with which the poor speak to our one Father, in whom all acknowledge themselves as brothers and sisters. The Our Father is a prayer said in the plural: the bread for which we ask is “ours”, and that entails sharing, participation and joint responsibility. In this prayer, all of us recognize our need to overcome every form of selfishness, in order to enter into the joy of mutual acceptance. (Pope Francis, Message for World Day of the Poor, n. 8)

Five ways to observe the World Day of the Poor

  • 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. Some helpful links:
  • Making caring for the poor a 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 organisations 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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