“Stretch forth your hand to the poor” (Sir 7:32). Poverty always appears in a variety of guises, and calls for attention to each particular situation. In all of these, we have an opportunity to encounter the Lord Jesus, who has revealed himself as present in the least of his brothers and sisters (cf. Mt 25:40). Indeed, the word of God transcends space and time, religions and cultures. Generosity that supports the weak, consoles the afflicted, relieves suffering and restores dignity to those stripped of it, is a condition for a fully human life. The decision to care for the poor, for their many different needs, cannot be conditioned by the time available or by private interests, or by impersonal pastoral or social projects. The power of God’s grace cannot be restrained by the selfish tendency to put ourselves always first.
The present experience has challenged many of our assumptions. We feel poorer and less self-sufficient because we have come to sense our limitations and the restriction of our freedom. The loss of employment, and of opportunities to be close to our loved ones and our regular acquaintances, suddenly opened our eyes to horizons that we had long since taken for granted. Our spiritual and material resources were called into question and we found ourselves experiencing fear. In the silence of our homes, we rediscovered the importance of simplicity and of keeping our eyes fixed on the essentials. We came to realize how much we need a new sense of fraternity, for mutual help and esteem. “Stretch forth your hand to the poor!” / Message of His Holiness Pope Francis for the Fourth World Day of the Poor/