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The World Day of the Poor

By Bishop Terry R. LaValley

Nov. 15, 2017

Pope Francis has designated the Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time, November 19th, as the first World Day of the Poor.  He desires to appeal to our consciences, sensitizing you and me to the cries of the poor and the suffering. 

The Holy Father has chosen “Let us love, not with words but with deeds” as this year’s theme. 

I invite all the faithful of the North Country to celebrate this first World Day of the Poor by:  reflecting on the good we have done, thanking the many who reach out to the hurting, and seeking the grace to enhance our own personal efforts on behalf of the poor in our neighborhoods.

The Pope writes that “if we truly wish to encounter Christ, we have to touch his body in the suffering bodies of the poor, as a response to the sacramental communion bestowed in the Eucharist.” 

As St. John Chrysostom reminds us: To be a people who honors the Eucharistic Christ is to be a people who do not neglect the other Christ suffering from cold and nakedness (Hom. in Matthaeum, 50:3 PG 58). 

Each of us must never tire of being more attentive and sensitive to the other Christs suffering in our midst.

Poverty has many faces scarred by violence, terror, social injustice, illiteracy and ignorance, trafficking, unemployment, mental disorder, addictions, exploitation by the wealthy and powerful, forced migration, the list goes on.

As I travel the roads of the North Country, I am reminded of how gifted we are with truly Eucharistic people in our diocese. 

Our parish families work tirelessly in a variety of social outreach efforts. 

We see the face of the suffering Christ in those who approach our soup kitchens and clothing stores, in those to whom we offer food baskets and in the pregnant women who seek our assistance, as well as those faces distraught from an emergency that has arisen when, through the parish or the Bishop’s Good Samaritan Fund, financial assistance is offered. 

We are graced, too, by the many parish organizations such as the Legion of Mary, Catholic Daughters, and the Knights of Columbus, as well as the many parishioners who visit the homebound, the elderly and the forgotten, all of whom tend to those suffering from material and spiritual poverty. 

This year in which we mark the 100th Anniversary of Catholic Charities in New York State we are especially aware of the broad variety of services offered by our Catholic Charities. 

For a generation, Sister Donna Franklin’s remarkable servant leadership has seen Catholic Charities, throughout our North Country, advocating for the neglected, offering counseling services and providing a host of other means of outreach and support to our hurting neighbor.

Yes, we are a Eucharistic people who are attentive and sensitive to the needs of our sisters and brothers. We take seriously Pope Francis’ theme: “Love not in word but in deed.”  We place all our hurting neighbors under the Maternal love and tender care of our Blessed Mother.

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