human development, social justice and sustainable social systems

World Day of the Poor

Deliberately I write the word Poor with a capital P, for respect, for love, for a priority concern.

Who are the real Poor today? Do we meet them in reality and not only on television? But, if already we do not turn the TV off when they are on it, this is already one thing. Are the situations we see on TV present in our dialogue with friends, with the Christian organisations where we participate in? Are they a concern for my Sunday services?

We see people who do not have sufficient income in a western society as this one is dominated by welfare, by interests, business and political disorder. We see floods of refugees knocking at the door of the western countries, we see children dying in a war-stricken country while again so many people die at sea or in attacks on cities in the Middle-East. If on top of that we may say that the ones who do not have any faith or community to rely on, no religion, that they are the worst of, mentally and spiritually.

The question which troubles my mind most is: “what can we do about all of this?” It goes beyond my capacity and our communities are impotent in front of this. It goes beyond the capacity of any religion even though we have so many institutions for healthcare and social assistance. Is there any other way than to unite over all barriers, boarders, religions, political interests and ideologies? Business is certainly not the answer neither is the putting up of field hospitals, although this is all necessary. Money is not enough as it does not go about curing a disease or so, not about a tsunami or an earthquake. It is not a question of fighting big fires, the whole world is put on fire today. By whom? Certainly not by the Poor!

We enjoy the way Pope Francis calls the attention of the whole world but even that is not enough. If only the people in power would listen to him!

It is time to call on all people of goodwill, to finely understand that all people on earth are our neighbour. It is time to cry out loud telling the story of the Samaritan businessman who bends low to assist a person of a country which is considered to be his enemy. It is time that no self-concern, be it small of big, can bring solutions to the world economy. If the voice of “everything is linked up together” as is clear in the encyclical Laudato Si’ of Pope Francis is not hearth and taken up concretely, all efforts will be as a bucket of water in the ocean.

It is time for humanity to hear the voice of the Poor who cry out for attention, for love, not only for bread. Love has to reign the world on all levels, only then doors, pockets and hearts will open. Love is the name of God, especially love for the little ones, for the Poorest among people, and love is the sign of humanity which everyone con bring.

The first step towards this world-solution will be that we hear the song of the angels in Betlehem and listen to it, they sing and pray about peace indicating the king of love. At that we remain silent, and so we can hear the voice, not only of the Poor, but the voice of God himself. He gave everything for all of us. Is there a better way?

Alternative Text

author

Msgr. Luc Van Looy

Bishop of Ghent and President of Caritas Europa

faith and action