2013-04-08       John W        John W's previous articles


Imitating Pope Francis' love for the poor


In a previous article Following Francis' example, I mentioned four ways we can imitate the example of Pope Francis: A simple lifestyle, concern for the poor, liturgical simplicity, the common touch

To take the second one first: concern for the poor. How can we  show/increase our concern for the poor?

"The poor" are clearly defined by Jesus:
- the hungry
- the thirsty
- the stranger (...refugee...)
- people with no clothes to wear
- the sick
- prisoners
- widows and orphans

As usual, step one is prayer. Each day I need to pray for the poor.
Might be neighborhood poor, national poor, international poor.

Can we pray each day for a one or more of the above seven groups?

My own custom, during thanksgiving after Communion, is to pray each day for the prisoners I visit, ex-prisoners who attend our Sunday night gatherings, drug addicts in my district, the sick in my notebook (I add names each day of sick/afflicted people I meet), for prisoners in China (following a monthly prayer schedule), and for a special group of handicapped friends I know in China

The next step is to do whatever we can for the above seven groups

My own practice includes:
- a monthly auto pay donation to Oxfam to help its work in Africa
- visiting prisons most days of the week
- producing/obtaining Bibles and other books for prisoners
- visiting people (especially poor people) in hospital one or more days a week
- making friends with local street sleepers
- helping support a Sunday night gathering for ex-inmates and other poor people
- helping support a project for the poor in China
- praying with sick people, especially the poor/prisoners, using and giving a copy of Dr Jesus

I'm in the fortunate position of having a full-time ministry whose job description is "serve the poor".  People with ordinary jobs and with families are obviously not free to give so much time to the poor

But in every country there are many opportunities to help the poor, especially by working with/through agencies like Caritas, St Vincent de Paul, Oxfam, Amnesty International, Médecins Sans Frontières as well as local charities, nursing homes, hospitals, centres for the handicapped etc
....not to mention neighbours who are in the poor category

Pope Francis is calling on all Catholics to increase our concern for the poor.

We must humbly and honestly ask:
What more can I do to help the poor?
What more can my family do to help the poor?
What more can my parish/community/school/group/association do to help the poor?

As a line in the famous Iona Passion Play "Stations of the Cross" puts it:
"Are we helping as many as God intends us to help?"

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