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Pope Francis sends video message to the people of Bangladesh

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a video message of greetings and blessings to the people of Bangladesh as he prepares to undertake a 3-day apostolic journey to the nation from the 30 November to 2 December. It comes as the second leg of a journey that also takes him to Myanmar from 27 to 30 November.

In his message the Pope said he is looking forward to being with the people of Bangladesh and to proclaim the Gospel message of reconciliation, forgiveness and peace.

He highlighted the significance of a scheduled meeting with religious leaders and said that “We live in times in which believers and men of goodwill in all places are called to promote reciprocal understanding and respect and to sustain each other as members of one human family.”



Dear Friends,

As I prepare to visit Bangladesh in a few days’ time, I wish to send a message of greeting and friendship to entire population. I look forward to the moment in which we shall be together.

I come as a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to proclaim his message of reconciliation, forgiveness and peace. My visit is to confirm the Catholic community in Bangladesh in its faith and witness to the Gospel that recognizes the dignity of every man and woman and calls us to open our hearts to others, especially to the poor and needy.

At the same time I wish to encounter the entire population. In a special way, I look forward to meeting with religious leaders at Ramna, in Dhaka. We live in times in which believers and men of goodwill in all places are called to promote reciprocal understanding and respect, and to sustain each other as members of one human family.

I know that there are many people in Bangladesh who are working hard to prepare for my visit and I thank them. I ask each of you for prayers so that my days with you may be a source of hope and encouragement for all. Upon you and your families I invoke the divine blessings of joy and peace! See you before long!      

Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni:  

Pope Francis creates new Section of Vatican Secretariat of State

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Tuesday set up a new Section within the Vatican's Secretariat of State to manifest his "the attention and closeness" of the Holy See's diplomatic personnel.

This Third Section of the Vatican's State office is to be called the Section for Diplomatic Staff of the Holy See and will reinforce the current office of the Delegate for Pontifical Representations.

A communique from the Holy See Press Office says the Section will be chaired by the Delegate for Pontifical Representations, currently Archbishop Jan Romeo Pawlowski.

"The Third Section will deal exclusively with matters relating to the staff who work in the diplomatic service of the Holy See or who prepare to do so – such as, for example, selection, initial and continuing formation, conditions of life and service, promotions, permits, etc.," the statement reads.

The Third Section has been granted "the just autonomy", it says, and "seek to establish close collaboration with the Section for General Affairs (which will continue to handle general matters of the Pontifical Representations), and with the Section for Relations with States (which will continue to deal with the political aspects of the work of the Pontifical Representations)."

In spelling out the Section's tasks, the statement says the Delegate for the Pontifical Representations "will participate, along with His Excellency the Substitute for General Affairs and His Excellency the Secretary for Relations with States, in weekly coordination meetings chaired by the Secretary of State. Furthermore, he will convene and chair ad hoc meetings for the preparation of the appointments of Pontifical Representatives. Finally, he will be responsible, along with the President of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, for the selection and formation of candidates."

Pope pays tribute to "zealous" cardinal

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a telegram of condolence to the sister of Italian Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, a “zealous pastor” who died on Sunday at the age of 92.

The message praised the Cardinal for his work as a papal nuncio in several countries and his efforts to restore a “spiritual vitality” and “a new zeal” at the Papal Basilica of St Paul’s Outside the Walls, where he was archpriest from 2005-2009.

Pope Francis said Cardinal Montezemolo was a “revered man of the Church, who lived with fidelity his long and fruitful priesthood and episcopate in the service of the Gospel and the Holy See.”

During his work in the pontifical representations to Papua New Guinea, Nicaragua, Honduras, Uruguay, Israel and Italy, he “devoted himself with wisdom to the good of those populations.”

The Pope added that the Cardinal’s work at St Paul’s Outside the Walls showed an “intense and competent commitment” particularly in the pastoral, organizational, and artistic-cultural areas.

At the end of the message sent to Marquise Adriana Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, Pope Francis promised prayers for the repose of her brother’s soul and sent his Apostolic Blessing to all who mourn the Cardinal’s passing.

Please find the tellegram in full below:

MARQUISE ADRIANA CORDERO LANZA DI MONTEZEMOLO

THE DEPARTURE OF YOUR DEAR BROTHER, THE VENERABLE CARDINAL ANDREA CORDERO LANZA DI MONTEZEMOLO, INSPIRES IN MY HEART SENTIMENTS OF SINCERE ADMIRATION FOR A REVERED MAN OF THE CHURCH, WHO LIVED WITH FIDELITY HIS LONG AND FRUITFUL PRIESTHOOD AND EPISCOPATE IN THE SERVICE OF THE GOSPEL AND THE HOLY SEE. I REMEMBER WITH GRATITUDE HIS GENEROUS WORK IN THE PONTIFICAL REPRESENTATIONS OF VARIOUS COUNTRIES, ESPECIALLY IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA, NICARAGUA, HONDURAS, URUGUAY, ISRAEL AND ITALY, WHERE HE DEVOTED HIMSELF WITH WISDOM TO THE GOOD OF THOSE POPULATIONS. AS ARCHPRIEST OF THE PAPAL BASILICA OF SAINT PAUL OUTSIDE-THE-WALLS, HE GAVE THE WITNESS OF A PARTICULARLY INTENSE AND COMPETENT COMMITMENT BOTH FROM A PASTORAL AND ORGANIZATIONAL, AND AN ARTISTIC-CULTURAL POINT OF VIEW, ENDEAVOURING TO RESTORE SPIRITUAL VITALITY TO THE ENTIRE COMPLEX AND NEW ZEAL TO THE ECUMENICAL VOCATION OF THAT PLACE OF WORSHIP. I RAISE FERVENT PRAYERS FOR HIS REPOSE, SO THAT BY THE INTERCESSION OF THE VIRGIN MARY AND THE APOSTLE OF THE PEOPLE, THE LORD MAY RECEIVE THE DEPARTED CARDINAL IN HIS ETERNAL JOY AND PEACE, AND I SEND MY APOSTOLIC BLESSING TO YOU AND OTHER FAMILY MEMBERS, AND TO THOSE WHO MOURN THE PASSING OF THIS ZEALOUS PASTOR.

Pope addresses Italian road and railway police

While commending Italy’s police force for ensuring the safety and security of those travelling by road and train, Pope Francis on Monday called on them to also inculcate humanity, uprightness ‎and “mercy”.  ‎  The Pope met some 100 top leaders and officials of Italy’s road police that celebrating its 70th anniversary and railway police that is marking its 110 years. 

Click below to listen:

 

Road safety

Talking about road safety, Pope Francis told the group it is necessary to deal with the low level of responsibility on the part of many drivers, who often do not even realize the serious consequences of their inattention (for example, with improper use of cell phones) or their disregard.  He said this is caused by a hurried and competitive lifestyle that regards other drivers as obstacles or opponents ‎to overcome, turning roads into "Formula One" tracks and the traffic lights as the starting line of a Grand Prix race.  In such a context, the Pope said, sanctions are not just enough to increase security, but there is a need for an ‎educative action, which creates greater awareness of one’s responsibilities for those traveling ‎alongside. ‎

Beyond professionalism

The Pope told the police men and women that the fruit of their experience on the road and the railway will help in raising awareness and increase civic sense. Their professionalism not only depends on their skills but also on their “profound uprightness” which never takes ‎advantage of the powers they possess, thus helping develop a “high degree of humanity.”  The Pope said that in surveillance and prevention, it is important to ensure never to let the use of force degenerate into ‎violence, especially when a policeman is regarded with suspicion or almost as an enemy instead of a guardian of the common good.

Mercy

In fulfilling their functions, the Holy Father suggested the police have a “sort of mercy”, which he said is not synonymous with ‎weakness.  Neither does it mean renunciation of the use of force.  It means not identifying the ‎offender with the offence he has committed, that ends up creating harm and generating revenge.  Their work requires them to use mercy even in the countless situations of weakness and pain that they face daily, ‎not only in various types of accidents but also in meeting needy or disadvantaged people.

Good vs evil

The Pope also asked the road and railway police to recognize the presence of the clash between good and evil in the world and within us, and to do everything possible to fight egoism, injustice and  ‎indifference and whatever offends man, creates ‎disorder and foments illegality, hindering the happiness and growth of people. 

Pope on World Day of the Poor: they open for us the way to heaven

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Sunday – the XXXIII Sunday in Ordinary Time and the first-ever World Day of the Poor – in St. Peter’s Basilica. The Holy Father announced the World Day of the Poor during the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, and entrusted its organization and promotion to the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization.

There were some 4 thousand needy people in the congregation for the Mass, after which Pope Francis offered Sunday lunch in the Paul VI Hall.

Speaking off the cuff to guests at the luncheon, the Holy Father said, “We pray that the Lord bless us, bless this meal, bless those who have prepared it, bless us all, bless our hearts, our families, our desires, our lives and give us health and strength.” The Holy Father went on to ask God's blessing on all those eating and serving in soup kitchens throughout the city. “Rome,” he said, “is full of this [charity and good will] today.”

Click below to hear our report

The World Day of the Poor is to be marked annually, on the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time.

In the homily he prepared for the occasion and delivered in St. Peter’s Basilica following the Gospel reading, Pope Francis said, “In the poor, Jesus knocks on the doors of our heart, thirsting for our love.” He went on to say, “When we overcome our indifference and, in the name of Jesus, we give of ourselves for the least of his brethren, we are his good and faithful friends, with whom he loves to dwell.”

Reminding the faithful that it is precisely in the poor, we find the presence of Jesus, who, though rich, became poor (cf. 2 Cor 8:9), and that there is therefore in each and every poor person, a “saving power” present, Pope Francis said, “[I]f in the eyes of the world they have little value, they are the ones who open to us the way to heaven.”

“For us,” the Pope continued, “it is an evangelical duty to care for them, as our real riches, and to do so not only by giving them bread, but also by breaking with them the bread of God’s word, which is addressed first to them.

“To love the poor,” Pope Francis said, “means to combat all forms of poverty, spiritual and material: and it will also do us good. Drawing near to the poor in our midst will touch our lives. It will remind us of what really counts: to love God and our neighbour. Only this lasts forever, everything else passes away.” 

Television: Educates, Informs, Entertains, Influences

World Television Day is celebrated on Nov 21 to give recognition to the increasing impact television has had on decision-making. It brings the world’s attention  to various conflicts and threats to peace and security and covers other major issues, including economic and social. 

In December 1996 the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed the 21st of November World Television Day, the same year the first World Television Forum was held.  World Television Day is not meant to celebrate by watching a television programme but rather to comprehend the values it communicates.

St. Pope John Paul II in his 28th World Communications Day message on the theme ‘Television and family: guidelines for good viewing’ said, “ The television is a primary source of news, information and entertainment for countless families, shaping their attitudes and opinions, their values and patterns of behavior. Television can enrich family life. It can draw family members closer together and foster their solidarity with other families and with the community at large. It can increase not only their general knowledge but also their religious knowledge, making it possible for them to hear God's word, to strengthen their religious identity, and to nurture their moral and spiritual life”.

Speaking of the moral responsibility the television personnel have towards their viewers he said “Those who work in television should be committed to the family as society's basic community of life, love and solidarity”.

The celebration of this day highlights how television has made a positive impact on our planet as a whole. The unique medium has helped shape a whole century in educating, informing and reforming opinions. 

For the UN the television as a communication media, plays an important role in presenting major issues faced by humankind.  Television not only provides us with vital information about our world, but it also helps to strengthen our democracies by getting this information directly into our homes. It is estimated that approximately 90% of homes around the world have televisions though now the number is declining since many prefer the internet. 

UN expert urges Mexico to end pattern of discrimination against indigenous peoples

A United Nations expert on indigenous rights has called on Mexico to achieve an equal and respectful relationship with indigenous peoples, in order to end a “serious pattern” of human rights abuses.  “The Government should take decisive steps to show its real commitment to fulfil the rights of indigenous peoples,”  UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples Rights, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz said at the end of an official visit to the country.

Click below to listen to our report:

During her 8-17 November mission, the Special Rapporteur met more than 200 people from 23 different indigenous groups - half of whom were women -  drawn from 18 Mexican states.  She also met officials during her visit to Mexico City and the states of Chiapas, Chihuahua and Guerrero.

Exclusion and discrimination

The indigenous rights activist from the Philippines called for creating the “necessary conditions for a sustained and inclusive dialogue, addressing all outstanding issues and providing an opportunity to establish trust, and create a new relationship between indigenous peoples and the State based on equality, respect and non-discrimination.”

Tauli-Corpuz said she was able to recognize a “serious pattern of exclusion and discrimination, which in turn reflects in a lack of access to justice, among other human rights violations.”  Another serious issue brought to her attention was the fact that indigenous peoples are not being properly consulted, according to international standards, on projects and other decisions that affect their rights, including their right to life.

Mexico falls short

The Special Rapporteur used her visit to assess whether recommendations made by her predecessor in 2003 had been implemented, and to evaluate how Mexico had incorporated its international human rights commitments on indigenous peoples. She noted that neither the 2003 recommendations nor the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, had been fully implemented.

Tauli-Corpuz will present her full report to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2018.

UNICEF: Despite progress, 180 million children face bleaker prospects than their parents

UNICEF observed World Children’s Day on Monday,  with global children’s ‘take-overs’ to give children their own platform to help save children’s lives, fight for their rights and fulfil their potential. This day also  marks the anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the rights of the child on 20 November 1989.

A separate UNICEF survey of children aged 9-18 in 14 countries released today shows that children are deeply concerned about global issues affecting their peers and them personally, including violence, terrorism, conflict, climate change, unfair treatment of refugees and migrants, and poverty. 

According to the analysis, 180 million children live in 37 countries where they are more likely to live in extreme poverty, be out of school, or be killed by violent death than children living in those countries were 20 years ago.

Laurence Chandy, UNICEF Director of Data, Research and Policy said,  “While the last generation has seen vast, unprecedented gains in living standards for most of the world's children, the fact that a forgotten minority of children have been excluded from this – through no fault of their own or those of their families – is a travesty.   It is the hope of every parent, everywhere, to provide greater opportunities for their children than they themselves enjoyed when they were young. This World Children’s Day, we have to take stock of how many children are instead seeing opportunities narrow and their prospects diminish,” he said.

Assessing children’s prospects in escaping extreme poverty, getting a basic education and avoiding violent deaths, the UNICEF analysis reveals that the share of people living on less than $1.90 a day has increased, primary school enrolment has declined in 21 countries and violent deaths among children below the age of 19 have increased in seven countries. 

“In a time of rapid technological change leading to huge gains in living standards, it is perverse that hundreds of millions are seeing living standards actually decline, creating a sense of injustice among them and failure among those entrusted with their care,” said Chandy. “No wonder they feel their voices are unheard and their futures uncertain,” he added.

Key findings from the survey include:

Half of children across all 14 countries report feeling disenfranchised when asked how they felt when decisions are made that affect children around the world.

Children across all 14 countries identified terrorism, poor education and poverty as the biggest issues they wanted world leaders to take action on.

Across all 14 countries, violence against children was the biggest concern.

Children across all 14 countries are equally concerned about terrorism and poor education.

Around 4 in 10 children across all 14 countries worry a lot about the unfair treatment of refugee and migrant children across the world.

Nearly half of children (45 per cent) across 14 countries do not trust their adults and world leaders to make good decisions for children.

Barack Obama, Cristiano Ronaldo, Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift are the most popular names for children to invite to their birthday party.Watching TV featured as the number one hobby of choice in 7 out of 14 of the countries.

World Children’s Day is a day ‘for children, by children’, when children from around the world take over key roles in media, politics, business, sport and entertainment to express their concerns about what global leaders should be focusing on, and to voice support for the millions of their peers who are facing a less hopeful future.

For the survey, UNICEF worked with Kantar and Lightspeed to poll more than 11,000 children aged between 9 and 18 years old in 14 countries about their concerns and attitudes on global issues including bullying, conflict/war, poverty, terrorism and violence against children. The countries surveyed were: Brazil, India, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States. (UNICEF)

Pope Francis: Cultural colonization ends in persecution

(Vatican Radio) Cultural and ideological colonization does not tolerate differences and makes everything the same, resulting in the persecution even of believers. Those were Pope Francis’ reflections in his homily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, which centered on the martyrdom of Eleazar, narrated in the book of Maccabees from the First Reading (Maccabees 6: 18-31).

The Pope noted that there are three main types of persecution: a purely religious persecution; a “mixed” persecution that has both religious and political motivations, like the Thirty Years War or the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre”; and a kind of cultural persecution, when a new culture comes in wanting “to make everything new and to make a clean break with everything: the cultures, the laws and the religions of a people.” It is this last type of persecution that led to the martyrdom of Eleazar.

The account of this persecution began in the reading from Monday’s liturgy. Some of the Jewish people, seeing the power and the magnificent beauty of Antiochus Ephiphanes (a Greek king of the Seleucid Empire), wanted to make an alliance with him. They wanted to be up-to-date and modern, and so they approached the king and asked him to allow them “to introduce the pagan institutions of other nations” among their own people. Not necessarily the ideas or gods of those nations, the Pope noted, but the institutions. In this way, this people brought in a new culture, “new institutions” in order to make a clean break with everything: their “culture, religion, law.” This modernizing, this renewal of everything, the Pope emphasized, is a true ideological colonization that wanted to impose on the people of Israel “this unique practice,” according to which everything was done in a particular way, and there was no freedom for other things. Some people accepted it because it seemed good to be like the others; and so the traditions were left aside, and the people begin to live in a different way.

But to defend the “true traditions” of the people, a resistance rose up, like that of Eleazar, who was very dignified, and respected by all. The book of Maccabees, the Pope said, tells the story of these martyrs, these heroes. A persecution born of ideological colonization always proceeds in the same way: destroying, attempting to make everyone the same. Such persecutions are incapable of tolerating differences.

The key word highlighted by the Pope, beginning with Monday’s reading is “perverse root” – that is Antiochus Epifanes: the root that came to introduce into the people of God, “with power,” these new, pagan, worldly” customs:

“And this is the path of cultural colonization that ends up persecuting believers too. But we do not have to go too far to see some examples: we think of the genocides of the last century, which was a new cultural thing: [Trying to make] everyone equal; [so that] there is no place for differences, there is no place for others, there is no place for God. It is the perverse root. Faced with this cultural colonization, which arises from the perversity of an ideological root, Eleazar himself has become [a contrary] root.

In fact, Eleazar dies thinking of the young people, leaving them a noble example. “He gives [his] life; for love of God and of the law he is made a root for the future.” So, in the face of that perverse root that produces this ideological and cultural colonization, “there is this other root that gives [his] life for the future to grow.”

What had come from the kingdom of Antioch was a novelty. But not all new things are bad, the Pope said: just think of the Gospel of Jesus, which was a novelty. When it comes to novelties, the Pope said, one has to be able to make distinctions:

“There is a need to discern ‘the new things’: Is this new thing from the Lord, does it come from the Holy Spirit, is it rooted in God? Or does this newness come from a perverse root? But before, [for example] yes, it was a sin to kill children; but today it is not a problem, it is a perverse novelty. Yesterday, the differences were clear, as God made it, creation was respected; but today [people say] we are a little modern... you act... you understand ... things are not so different ... and things are mixed together.”

 The “new things” of God, on the other hand, never makes “a negotiation” but grows and looks at the future:

“Ideological and cultural colonizations only look to the present; they deny the past, and do not look to the future. They live in the moment, not in time, and so they can’t promise us anything. And with this attitude of making everyone equal and cancelling out differences, they commit, they make an particularly ugly blasphemy against God the Creator. Every time a cultural and ideological colonization comes along, it sins against God the Creator because it wants to change Creation as it was made by Him. And against this fact that has occurred so often in history, there is only one medicine: bearing witness; that is, martyrdom.

Eleazar, in fact, gives the witness by giving his life, considering the inheritance he will leave by his example: “I have lived thus. Yes, I dialogue with those who think otherwise, but my testimony is thus, according to the law of God.” Eleazar does not think about leaving behind money or anything of that kind, but looks to the future, “the legacy of his testimony,” to that testimony that would be “a promise of fruitfulness for the young.” It becomes, therefore, a root to give life to others. And the Pope concludes with the hope that that example “will help us in moments of confusion in the face of the cultural and spiritual colonization that is being proposed to us.”

Pope Francis: homily for World Day of the Poor

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Sunday – the XXXIII Sunday in Ordinary Time and the first-ever World Day of the Poor – in St. Peter’s Basilica. Below, please find the full text of his homily on the occasion, in its official English translation

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We have the joy of breaking the bread of God’s word, and shortly, we will have the joy of breaking and receiving the Bread of the Eucharist, food for life’s journey. All of us, none excluded, need this, for all of us are beggars when it comes to what is essential: God’s love, which gives meaning to our lives and a life without end. So today too, we lift up our hands to him, asking to receive his gifts.

The Gospel parable speaks of gifts. It tells us that we have received talents from God, “according to ability of each” (Mt 25:15). Before all else, let us realize this: we do have talents; in God’s eyes, we are “talented”. Consequently, no one can think that he or she is useless, so poor as to be incapable of giving something to others. We are chosen and blessed by God, who wants to fill us with his gifts, more than any father or mother does with their own children. And God, in whose eyes no child can be neglected, entrusts to each of us a mission.

Indeed, as the loving and demanding Father that he is, he gives us responsibility. In the parable, we see that each servant is given talents to use wisely. But whereas the first two servants do what they are charged, the third does not make his talents bear fruit; he gives back only what he had received. “I was afraid – he says – and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours” (v. 25). As a result, he is harshly rebuked as “wicked and lazy” (v. 26). What made the Master displeased with him? To use a word that may sound a little old-fashioned but is still timely, I would say it was his omission. His evil was that of failing to do good. All too often, we have the idea that we haven’t done anything wrong, and so we rest content, presuming that we are good and just. But in this way we risk acting like the unworthy servant: he did no wrong, he didn’t waste the talent, in fact he kept it carefully hidden in the ground. But to do no wrong is not enough. God is not an inspector looking for unstamped tickets; he is a Father looking for children to whom he can entrust his property and his plans (cf. v. 14). It is sad when the Father of love does not receive a generous response of love from his children, who do no more than keep the rules and follow the commandments, like hired hands in the house of the Father (cf. Lk 15:17).

The unworthy servant, despite receiving a talent from the Master who loves to share and multiply his gifts, guarded it jealously; he was content to keep it safe. But someone concerned only to preserve and maintain the treasures of the past is not being faithful to God. Instead, the parable tells us, the one who adds new talents is truly “faithful” (vv. 21 and 23), because he sees things as God does; he does not stand still, but instead, out of love, takes risks. He puts his life on the line for others; he is not content to keep things as they are. One thing alone does he overlook: his own interest. That is the only right “omission”.

Omission is also the great sin where the poor are concerned. Here it has a specific name: indifference. It is when we say, “That doesn’t regard me; it’s not my business; it’s society’s problem”. It is when we turn away from a brother or sister in need, when we change channels as soon as a disturbing question comes up, when we grow indignant at evil but do nothing about it. God will not ask us if we felt righteous indignation, but whether we did some good.

How, in practice can we please God? When we want to please someone dear to us, for example by giving a gift, we need first to know that person’s tastes, lest the gift prove more pleasing to the giver than to the recipient. When we want to offer something to the Lord, we can find his tastes in the Gospel. Immediately following the passage that we heard today, Jesus says, “Truly I tell you that, just as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40). These least of our brethren, whom he loves dearly, are the hungry and the sick, the stranger and the prisoner, the poor and the abandoned, the suffering who receive no help, the needy who are cast aside. On their faces we can imagine seeing Jesus’ own face; on their lips, even if pursed in pain, we can hear his words: “This is my body” (Mt 26:26).

In the poor, Jesus knocks on the doors of our heart, thirsting for our love. When we overcome our indifference and, in the name of Jesus, we give of ourselves for the least of his brethren, we are his good and faithful friends, with whom he loves to dwell. God greatly appreciates the attitude described in today’s first reading that of the “good wife”, who “opens her hand to the poor, and reaches out her hands to the needy” (Prov 31:10.20). Here we see true goodness and strength: not in closed fists and crossed arms, but in ready hands outstretched to the poor, to the wounded flesh of the Lord.

There, in the poor, we find the presence of Jesus, who, though rich, became poor (cf. 2 Cor 8:9). For this reason, in them, in their weakness, a “saving power” is present. And if in the eyes of the world they have little value, they are the ones who open to us the way to heaven; they are our “passport to paradise”. For us it is an evangelical duty to care for them, as our real riches, and to do so not only by giving them bread, but also by breaking with them the bread of God’s word, which is addressed first to them. To love the poor means to combat all forms of poverty, spiritual and material.

And it will also do us good. Drawing near to the poor in our midst will touch our lives. It will remind us of what really counts: to love God and our neighbour. Only this lasts forever, everything else passes away. What we invest in love remains, the rest vanishes. Today we might ask ourselves: “What counts for me in life? Where am I making my investments?” In fleeting riches, with which the world is never satisfied, or in the wealth bestowed by God, who gives eternal life? This is the choice before us: to live in order to gain things on earth, or to give things away in order to gain heaven. Where heaven is concerned, what matters is not what we have, but what we give, for “those who store up treasures for themselves, do not grow rich in the sight of God” (Lk 12:21).

So let us not seek for ourselves more than we need, but rather what is good for others, and nothing of value will be lacking to us. May the Lord, who has compassion for our poverty and needs, and bestows his talents upon us, grant us the wisdom to seek what really matters, and the courage to love, not in words but in deeds.