Monday, December 12, 2011

Mondays with Verbum Domini

The proclamation of the word of God and the poor

Sacred Scripture manifests God’s special love for the poor and the needy (cf. Mt 25:31-46). The Synod Fathers frequently spoke of the importance of enabling these, our brothers and sisters, to hear the Gospel message and to experience the closeness of their pastors and communities. Indeed, “the poor are the first ones entitled to hear the proclamation of the Gospel; they need not only bread, but also words of life”. The diaconia of charity, which must never be lacking in our churches, should always be bound to the proclamation of the word and the celebration of the sacred mysteries. Yet we also need to recognize and appreciate the fact that the poor are themselves agents of evangelization. In the Bible, the true poor are those who entrust themselves totally to God; in the Gospel Jesus calls them blessed, “for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” (Mt 5:3; cf. Lk 6:20). The Lord exalts the simplicity of heart of those who find in God true riches, placing their hope in him, and not in the things of this world. The Church cannot let the poor down: “Pastors are called to listen to them, to learn from them, to guide them in their faith and to encourage them to take responsibility for lives”.

The Church also knows that poverty can exist as a virtue, to be cultivated and chosen freely, as so many saints have done. Poverty can likewise exist as indigence, often due to injustice or selfishness, marked by hunger and need, and as a source of conflict. In her proclamation of God’s word, the Church knows that a “virtuous circle” must be promoted between the poverty which is to be chosen and the poverty which is to be combated; we need to rediscover “moderation and solidarity, these values of the Gospel that are also universal … This entails decisions marked by justice and moderation”. -Verbum Domini 107

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