The Hope of the Poor
For the third time, Pope Francis calls us to celebrate the World Day of the Poor.
He does so with a title at the beginning of his message: "The hope of the poor shall not perish for ever"
Once again, we are pushed to get out of our security, from the comfort zone of our spirituality to look around us in all its hardness, the one that millions of our brothers live with. The title of this message surprised me because it invites us to focus on hope, as the most precious good, that no one can take away from the poor. It is this gift, which assures us, in a very beautiful way, Psalm 9 and reminds us of a very strong truth. If it is true that hope is deeply rooted in the hearts of the poor, it follows, for us Disciples of Christ, to have to do everything in our power so that this hope is not frustrated and that our struggle against injustice, suffering, and precariousness is fought with them. This is the only way to keep alive the hope of the poor and ours and that is how we can celebrate the God of Life together.
This is what we want to reaffirm this year in our local Church, responding to the reality experienced day by day and to the needs that it presents to us. On the occasion of the first World Day, we listened to the cries of all those who, in Paramonga (Peru) had been affected by the floods that occurred a few months earlier and we offered, on that day, a fraternal meal to many of our brothers and sisters who had lost everything: home and goods. The following year was marked by a strong presence of migrants arrived from Venezuela and we invited them for a warm meeting and a meal.
This year we feel deeply challenged by the reality lived by our brothers and sisters of Amazonia, who were at the center of the recent Synod of Rome. Amazonia is an important reality for all of Latin America and in our country; it represents 2/3 of the national territory. As a community inserted in the Peruvian land we asked ourselves: How to make present not only the lands of Amazonia but also the indigenous peoples who live there and who suffer from forgetfulness, indifference, theft of their lands and marginality? Too often forgotten by successive governments, we remember them only when there is some project to extract minerals or oil, or extensive cultivation (for example soya for biofuels), this generates contamination that threatens the life and ecological balance.
Compare us with this question, it seemed good to add our modest participation in the effort put in place to get an improvement in education in that region, so that, increasingly, these same peoples can make their voices heard, as happened during the Synod, when they claimed their rights to life, their needs as a Church and their own culture. In this sense we join a project of our Dominican brothers, who have an important commitment in this region, to gather material for children, in order to collaborate in improving their education. Thus we widen the horizon of our community and let us allow ourselves to be deeply penetrated by the reality of our brothers' suffering, diminishing the geographical distance that exists between us, believers of the coast and people of Amazonia.
The God that Jesus wanted to reveal to us is this: a generous, merciful Father, infinite in his goodness and in his grace, who offers hope above all to those of whom nobody remembers and who find themselves threatened even in their own existence. We wish to be faithful witnesses to the hope that can only come from a real commitment to the poor.
Let us remember: the poor save us because they allow us to recognize the face of God revealed in Jesus Christ.
Sr. Geneviève de Saint-André (Paramonga, Peru)
November 16, 2019
Read the Message of Pope Francis for the 3rd World Day of the Poor:
"The hope of the poor shall not perish for ever"