Brazil – A reflection for the IV World Day of the Poor

13 November 2020

(ANS - São Paulo) - Since 2017 the Holy Father has proposed the World Day of the Poor to the whole Church, a way to motivate the faithful to reflect and to live the various experiences of attention to the most needy in society. In this 2020, the Day is celebrated next Sunday, November 15, on the theme "Stretch thine hand unto the poor," (Sir 7:32). More than an invitation, this year's message is an appeal, a cry that resounds throughout the world, especially in countries heavily affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In addition to worsening and spreading, poverty also differs into new types. This means that the way of being poor today is not the same as it was a few years ago. A new conception of poverty is being forged, which could be defined as “aporophobia”, a term attributed to Adela Cortina, a contemporary Spanish philosopher, and which can be translated as “aversion or rejection of the poor”. It determines a mentality of social stigmatization, fueled by indifference, and which leads to further isolating and marginalizing those who are already victims of a non-inclusive economic system.

Current events, still traversed by the shadow of the pandemic, ask those in better conditions to make concrete, creative and effective gestures to mitigate inequalities and make a dignified life possible for the poorest.

To those who believe, the Successor of Peter reminds us that putting ourselves at the service of the weakest is not "an optional exhortation, but a condition of the authenticity of the faith we profess".

The "globalization of indifference", which establishes a selfish and consequently unhappy lifestyle, must be overcome by a culture of care, which must take place starting from one's own being, from the other, from the "Common Home".

In addition to material poverty, the document deals with spiritual poverty, which also must be alleviated within a Christian community, in the light of the faith and teachings of the Church.

Thus, as an existential perspective, the message brings out the necessary reference to the purpose of existence (cf. Sir 7:36), the awareness that "within us there is the capacity to perform gestures that give meaning to life", be it in the life of those who carry them out, as in the life of those who receive them. And so, the Holy Father's Message for the Fourth World Day of the Poor renews the constant invitation to solidarity and commitment with the most needy as an existential journey, a journey of humanization and transcendence at the same time.

It cannot be denied that the meaning of life implies the encounter with the needy, meeting them, offering a smile, a respectful attitude, offering them welcome, listening, and, from these gestures, the demonstration that the neighbor is loved by the Lord of life. Thus the outstretched hands become an extension of the heart and in the embrace of those who take the first step it is possible to see, with joy: love is the meaning of life and to love is to live committed with God, with oneself and with one's neighbour.

Amós Santiago de Carvalho Mendes, SDB


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