World Day of the Poor takes place on Sunday 19 November when we are invited to reflect on Pope Francis message and his focus this year on the Book of Tobit “Do not turn your face away from anyone who is poor” (Tob 4:7)”
In preparation for this important day, Caritas Diocese of Plymouth held an event on Saturday 14th October 2023 at St Rita’s Honiton to pray and reflect on the key elements of this year’s message. There were three keynote speakers: Canon John Deeny, Jenny Sinclair (Together for the Common Good) and David Wells. One of the participants – Ben Graat – has kindly shared his impressions of the day:
“Canon John Deeny began by ‘Unwrapping the Message of Pope Francis’. The key theme of Pope Francis’ message came from the book of Tobit ‘Do not turn your face away from any of the Poor’ which was an instruction Tobit gave to his son Tobias. The phrase is designed to move us, it is an unfamiliar phrase. It tells us that Tobit is a good man, a husband and a father who had genuine concern for the poor, despite the many challenges in his own life. Tobit prepared a dinner and asked his son to invite poor people to share their food – just as we are encouraged to invite someone in need to share a meal with us.
This culture of encounter and outreach is at the heart of what Francis wants us to remember. Fr John noted how this impacted Guido Schaffer’s life, a Brazilian medic who offered medical care for the homeless but who sadly died early in his life in a surfing accident. His care for the poor and heroic virtue has been recognised by Pope Francis.
The story of the Good Samaritan continues to challenge us in our daily lives. It is easy to delegate charity to others. The calling of every Christian is to be involved. It calls for re-establishing the just interpersonal relationships that poverty harms. It is more than simply a matter of a hasty handout.
Jenny Sinclair spoke about being ‘Called to be Friends: Being God’s People in Dark Times’. Jenny has a wonderful presence. It is challenging what she makes you think about. Jenny encouraged us to go from an arms length relationship with poverty to a relational sense, developing new ways of behaviour. Jenny shared a slide of Pope Francis eating his lunch with those who are homeless – we too are called to respond to grave social problems. You can find a full copy of her talk and slides here.
David Wells spoke about ‘Joy – the infallible sign of God’s Presence’ and why joy is a necessary ingredient for social change. David wanted to encourage the young person within us all who still wants to change the world.
We concluded the day with a final liturgy led by Deacon Nick Johnson.”
If you weren’t able to attend but would like to be kept informed about future events, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
You can find prayer resources for World Day of the Poor here
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference has also recently updated its statement on the cost of living crisis.