Pope calls Church to provide for the needs of the poor

Pope Francis delivers an Angelus address, March 17, 2013. Credit: InterMirifica.net.

At Sunday's Angelus address at the Vatican, Pope Francis called on those receiving his message to care first for the poor, before concerning themselves with their own wants and needs.

“Jesus teaches us to put the needs of the poor ahead of our own,” he said Aug. 3 at St. Peter's Square. “Our needs, even if legitimate, will never be so urgent as those of the poor, who lack the necessities of life.”

He reflected on the day's Gospel, the multiplication of the loaves and fishes; from this pericope he drew three messages: compassion, sharing, and Eucharist.

Beginning with compassion, he said Christ “does not react with irritation to the crowd that followed him, and would not – so to speak - ‘leave him in peace’. Rather, he feels compassion, because he knows that they do not seek him out of curiosity, but out of need.”

He clarified that this compassion of God is not merely a feeling of pity, but is, as the word suggests, a 'suffering with' which “identifies with the suffering of others, to the point of taking it upon himself.”

“Thus is Jesus: he suffers among us, he suffers with us, he suffers for us.”

This compassion of God should lead us to “feel that man, that woman, those babes who lack the necessities of life.”

“Who do not have food to eat, do not have clothing, do not have the possibility of getting medicine … also those children who do not have the possibility of going to school.”

“And for this reason, our needs, even if legitimate, will never be so urgent as those of the poor, who lack the necessities of life.”

Thence, the Pope moved to reflect on sharing.

Contrasting the reactions to the crowd of the disciples and of Christ, he said they are “two different reactions which reflect two opposing logics: the disciples are thinking according to the world, for which everyone has to take care of himself; Jesus thinks according to the logic of God, which is that of sharing.”

“How often do we turn away so that we do not see the brethren in need!”

This, Pope Francis said, “is not of Jesus: this is egoism.”

The multiplication of the loaves and fishes “ is no magic trick, but a ‘sign’ – a sign that invites us to have faith in God, the provident Father, who will not force us to go without ‘our daily bread’, if we know how to share it as brethren.”

Finally, the Pope turned to the Mass, saying the scene “prefigures the Eucharist,” noting their parallels.

“But we must go to the Eucharist with the sentiments of Jesus, that is, with compassion and the will to share.”

“Who approaches the Eucharist without compassion for the needy and without sharing, will not find themselves well with Jesus.”

Compassion, sharing, and the Eucharist, Pope Francis said, are “the way which Jesus indicates in this Gospel. A way which leads us to fraternity with the needs of this world, yet which takes us beyond this world, because it comes from God the Father and returns to him.”

“May the Virgin Mary, Mother of divine Providence, accompany us on this way.”
 


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Habitat: Living out the Gospel call

Anne Hansen

The discussion over faith and good works has been going on for centuries:  Is faith alone enough for salvation, or is it necessary to engage in good works as well? The Catholic understanding is that faith and good works go hand in hand — an understanding based in Scripture.

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