Pope Francis’ message for World Day of the PoorSunday 19th November 2023
Today, Catholics across the world are coming together in prayer and reflection to mark the seventh World Day of the Poor.
In this year’s message, Pope Francis turns our attention to the Book of Tobit.
This wonderful Old Testament text tells the story of a wise old man who lived a life of charity, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and burying the dead.
Despite his kindness, Tobit came across numerous trials himself; being deported from his homeland, reduced to a life a poverty, and even lost his sight in a seemingly cruel twist of fate.
In his message, Pope Francis writes: “No good deed goes unpunished! That is what we are tempted to think, but faith teaches us to go more deeply.”
Pope Francis explains how it was precisely these challenges that gave Tobit a rare perspective, enabling him to respond with true courage and compassion to the needs of those around him.
He said: “Tobit, in his time of trial, discovers his own poverty, which enables him to recognise others facing similar challenges. He is faithful to God’s law and keeps the commandments, but for him this is not enough. He can show practical concern for others because he has personally known what it is to face such challenges.”
“His advice to Tobias (his son) thus becomes his true testament: “Do not turn your face away from anyone in need.” (4:7). In a word, whenever we encounter someone who needs our help, we cannot look away, for that would prevent us from encountering the face of the Lord Jesus.
“Let us carefully consider his words: “from anyone who is in need”. Everyone is our neighbour. Regardless of the colour of their skin, their social standing, the place from which they come.”
This World Day of Poor, we pray that the same spirit of love and mercy that was so strong in Tobit may touch our own hearts as we seek to build a future of compassion, justice, and dignity for all.
We are also pleased to share resources and information from our diocesan charity, Caritas Salford, who carry out incredible work to tackle poverty, inequality, and injustice in our communities.