Comforting the poor

Let us speak of poverty, the greatest scourge of our time. What can the Church do to alleviate it? It can make the faithful more aware of the problem. You see statistics that say that 800 million people will die because they do not have even the basic necessities; that 3 billion people live on less than two euros a day. And we know there are families here in Albania who live on even less. You see these families right in front of you. You know their names. Of course. And we can’t always do what should be done. I want to remind people that Christ chose to lead a simple life and was poor by choice. I think that with the frenzied pace of our consumer society, even Christmas has become a consumer feast, dominated by the accumulation and enjoyment of material goods. It is obvious that in many Christian environments there is a kind of madness. Many Christians admire and constantly praise the words and deeds of Christ, but in practice they take the view that only wealth is of any value. And so in many traditionally Christian countries we can see a Christianity of broken faith, broken love, and a damaged awareness of itself. The Church cannot remain indifferent in the face of that. I assure you that I listen more insistently to the words of Christ: «I stood by the poor and the humble; I insisted on the duty of solidarity with every person; I extended that beyond every racial and religious border, to the one who is unknown, to the stranger, to the one who is different. I asked you to be compassionate and generous. So why do you keeping calling ‘Lord, Lord’ but not doing what I have told you?» I think that Christmas illuminates in a special way the worth of every person who lives in poverty. To those who are in difficult straits or suffering from deprivation, it gives peace, strength, dignity and faith in Christ, the friend and brother of the poor, to withstand our ordeals. Besides, he exhorts us all, whether we have a lot or a little, to put into practice our care for everyone, starting with our close family circle, our relatives, our neighborhood and extending our thoughts and hearts to comfort the poor wherever they are on earth.

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