Bearers of Hope
By Sr Maria Robb, Spiritual Director.
Reflection on Pope Francis’ message for 4th World Day of the Poor
Pope Francis’ message for the 4th Word Day for the Poor is entitled, ‘Stretch forth your hand to the poor’. These words are taken from the book of the Prophet Sirach, a man who lived 200 years before the birth of Jesus – but his words are just as important and necessary today, two millennium on.
We are reminded in Pope Francis’ message that poverty has many guises. In today’s reality this is even more so. Covid 19 has brought many people face to face with poverty – the poverties of illness, bereavement, unemployment, insecurity, desperation, loneliness, fear, isolation. The list goes on and on.
Yet as we light the first candle on our Advent Wreath and read the Gospel for the 1st Sunday of Advent, we are reminded that we are to be people of HOPE!
Hope is offered in the outstretched hand that symbolises ‘closeness, solidarity and love’(6)
In times when visiting can be difficult we can offer hope through a phone-call, through dropping off some necessary food, through being aware of those who are struggling- all signs of ‘closeness, solidarity and love’. Hope is also offered when we pray with and for those who are poor. Pope Francis says quite directly, ‘Prayer to God and solidarity with the poor and suffering are inseparable’.(2)
Pope Francis echoes St Vincent when he tells us that, ‘We have to recognise that each person, even the poorest and most contemptable, is made in the image of God.’ (2) In seeing Christ in each one we serve we are filled with a hope that comes from God alone.
For us as Vincentians, the call to, ‘Stretch forth your hand to the poor’, is a response to our Vincentian charism. As Vincentians we have no option but to reach out to our sisters and brothers who are poor offering them the hope through our simple acts of love.
As this season of Advent begins and we prepare for the great Feast of Christmas how are you as an SSVP member, a Vincentian, offering signs of hope to your sisters and brothers in need?
This week’s Gospel from St Mark invites us to be ‘AWAKE’. What new poverties are you aware of that are emerging in your area?
How might you and your Conference be able to address these poverties?