World Day of the Poor 2023 – “Do Not Turn Away”
The full verse from the Book of Tobit 4:7 reads: Give alms from your possessions. Do not turn your face away from any of the poor, and God’s face will not be turned away from you.
It is the phrase in bold which Pope Francis has chosen for the theme of his message for World Day of the Poor which takes place on 19 November this year. However, the rest of the sentence encourages us to treat the poor as we would want God to treat us. And the call to give alms goes beyond merely providing material support; it is an invitation to be engaged with those in need, walk alongside, and provide help and support.
Pope Francis puts it this way:
Caring for the poor is more than simply a matter of a hasty handout, it calls for re-establishing the just interpersonal relationships that poverty harms.
He also tells us that when we encounter a poor person we cannot turn away ‘for that would prevent us from encountering the face of the Lord Jesus’.
We are reminded that poverty comes in many forms – material poverty, emotional poverty, and spiritual poverty. It is not only the lack of material possessions but also the absence of love, faith, understanding, and support. As followers of Christ, we are called to address all forms of poverty, promoting a culture of encounter and communion.
The Pope in speaking of Jesus’ Parable of the Good Samaritan, says:
The parable of the Good Samaritan (cf. Lk 10:25-37) is not simply a story from the past; it continues to challenge each of us in the here and now of our daily lives. It is easy to delegate charity to others, yet the calling of every Christian is to become personally involved.
Catholic Social Action Network (CSAN) has produced a resource for the World Day of the Poor, available below: