This Sunday, 15th November marks the fourth World Day of the Poor, a time to reflect on how poverty is prevalent in societies around the globe. Taken from the book of Sirach (Sirach 7:32) this year’s theme is “Stretch forth your hand to the poor”. A message that is vitally important in a year where global poverty is expected to rise for the first time since 1990, as the world reacts to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
With roughly 700 million people already living in extreme poverty, and 10% the population in developing countries are living on less than €1.60 a day this new threat risks reversing decades of progress in the area. Poverty is not determined by how little money you have, there are many dimensions of poverty some include access (or lack of access to) health, nutrition, education, sanitation and housing.
Sisters from our congregation are present in communities across Ireland, England and Scotland, North America, Nigeria, Malawi and Zambia. Working to assist those in need including the homeless, prisoners, immigrants and people who find themselves in dangerous situations of domestic violence and human trafficking.
In an integrated effort “to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all”, the United Nations Member States in 2015 adapted a universal call to action known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A collection of 17 goals designed by eradicate poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. This involves targeting the most vulnerable, increasing basic resources and services, and supporting communities affected by conflict and climate-related disasters.
The following year, His Holiness Pope Francis in the Apostolic Letter ‘Misericordia et misera’, requested all the Church and communities to unite together annually on the 33rd Sunday of the Liturgical Year to represent the poor, announcing the first World Day of the Poor. Similar to Mary Aikenhead he directed that our ‘passion for the poor’ should address the immediate urgent needs of those who suffer and are desperate; while also engaging with the wider social issues and injustices that create and sustain inhuman conditions.
Today, World Day of the Poor, gives an opportunity to do one ‘small’ thing to help people less fortunate so please join us and offer your hand and take a moment and pray for the poor.
You came to give honour to the least,
those forgotten, overlooked and misjudged.
You came to give first place to the last,
those left behind, misunderstood and undervalued.
You came to give a warm welcome to the lost,
those who are orphaned, abandoned and destitute.
Help us to be your ears to listen to their cries.
Help us to be your voice speaking out love and acceptance.
Help us to be your feet walking beside those in need.
Help us to be your hands to clothe, feed and shelter them.
You came for the least, the lost and last of this world. Lord, hear our prayer.