The Church of St Joseph, Kuala Lumpur, has been observing the World Day of the Poor cum Parish Family Day for the past three years. Ever since I was assigned to this Parish, I have noticed that the whole Parish – the Parishioners and leaders of various ministries – generously extend services and reach out to the poor, the needy, marginalised, migrants and refugees.
We always lend a helping hand and offer a listening ear to the cries of the poor in whatever little way we can. We live the life of love not merely with words but with our deeds. We carry out the mission of our Church by reaching out to the poor. We realise that being mediocre is not the hallmark of a true Christian, as we have been called to go the extra mile by giving the very best of His love and care for the poor.
This weekend (17 November 2019), we are celebrating the Third World Day of the Poor cum Parish Family Day in our Parish. The Holy Father has suggested that Catholic Communities set aside the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time each year as the World Day of the Poor. As we observe this day, he wants us to reflect on how poverty can be at the very heart of the Gospel.
The theme for this year’s World Day of the Poor is, “The Hope of the Poor Shall not Perish Forever” (Psalm 9:18). The Holy Father reminds us that “the poor are not numbers, but people who need our assistance and our companionship.” Therefore, we need “to protect, defend, care for and save” them from all afflictions. These are only possible when we have simplicity of heart, humility of listening and the courage to move with a heart of compassion towards the poor. We should not look down on them, but instead give them dignity and lift them up from their poverty. As we put our efforts to lift them up, we “live our mission with the style of poverty, graciousness and humility.”
When the Holy Father published his message for the World Day of the Poor on 13 June 2019, on the feast of St Anthony of Padua, he reminded us that we should be in solidarity with the poor. These poor individuals and families have left their homeland – many are orphaned and victims of various kinds of violence, deprived by economic, political and social issues. The millions of homeless, marginalised and afflicted are often neglected by society and by nations.
The Holy Father invites us to cultivate our personal encounter with Christ through work of charity. It is a great challenge and it is our responsibility to “look into their eyes of the poor” and to give our hope by wiping away their tears and comforting them in time of their need. We also need to open our hearts to them and give them hope in their lives so that they too will never be disappointed and not feel deprived in the society.
The Pope added that we should not stop “sowing tangible seeds of hope” in the hearts of the poor because “they enable us to encounter the face of Christ.” We need to remain as “instruments and opportunities for peace, solidarity and promotion of dignity” for the underprivileged individuals and families and for every one that we meet in our lives.
My dear committee members of World Day of the Poor, Ministry of the Poor, BECs, and other committees and parishioners – I truly appreciate your great effort, enthusiasm, dedication, involvement and your constant love for the poor, which society seems to exclude. Let us come together this Sunday to celebrate with them and restore hope in their lives.
by Rev. Fr. George P.