These words from Pope Francis can help us to reflect more deeply on how our experience of God’s love can open our hearts to solidarity with our neighbors, and move us to action. As you read these quotes, be attentive to what emotions you experience. Ask for the Holy Spirit to help you discern how you might be called to love-inspired action.
“To love God and neighbor is not something abstract, but profoundly concrete: it means seeing in every person and face of the Lord to be served, to serve him concretely. And you are, dear brothers and sisters, in the face of Jesus.” (Pope Francis, Address during Visit at the Homeless Shelter “Dona Di Maria,” 5/21/13)
In whom do you have a difficult time recognizing the face of Christ?
“When we are generous in welcoming people and sharing something with them—some food, a place in our homes, our time—not only do we no longer remain poor: we are enriched. I am well aware that when someone needing food knocks at your door, you always find a way of sharing food; as the proverb says, one can always ‘add more water to the beans’! Is it possible to add more water to the beans?…Always?…And you do so with love, demonstrating that true riches consist not in materials things, but in the heart! (Pope Francis, Address during Visit to the Community at Varginha, 7/25/13)
What do your brothers and sisters in poverty have to teach you?
Who are you called to welcome into your life? Into your parish? Into your community?
“A way has to be found to enable everyone to benefit from the fruits of the earth, and not simply to close the gap between the affluent and those who must be satisfied with the crumbs falling from the table, but above all to satisfy the demands of justice, fairness and respect for every human being.” (Pope Francis, Address to the Food and Agricultural Organization, 6/20/13)
Read the parable of Lazarus and the rich man (Lk 16:19-31). In today’s world, who is Lazarus? Who is the rich man? Where do you fit in?
“Among our tasks as witnesses to the love of Christ is that of giving a voice to the cry of the poor.” (Pope Francis, Address to the Archbishop of Canterbury, 6/14/13)
What might need to change in your own heart in order to respond to the call to “give voice” to the cry of those in poverty?
“Poverty calls us to sow hope…. Poverty is the flesh of the poor Jesus, in that child who is hungry, in the one who is sick, in those unjust social structures.” (Pope Francis, Meeting with Students of Jesuit Schools—Q&A, 6/7/13)
Where do you see hope? Where do you see unjust structures? Where do you see Jesus?
“The times talk to us of so much poverty in the world and this is a scandal. Poverty in the world is a scandal. In a world where there is so much wealth, so many resources to feed everyone, it is unfathomable that there are so many hungry children, that there are so many children without an education, so many poor persons. Poverty today is a cry.” (Pope Francis, Meeting with Students of Jesuit Schools—Q&A, 6/7/13)
What emotions does the existence of poverty in the world stir up in your heart?
“In the Gospel, we read the parable of the Good Samaritan, that speaks of a man assaulted and left half dead at the side of the road. People pass by him and look at him. But they do not stop, they just continue on their journey, indifferent to him: it is none of their business! How often do we say: it’s not my problem! How often do we turn the other way and pretend not to see! Only a Samaritan, a stranger, sees him, stops, lifts him up, takes him by the hand, and cares for him (cf. Lk 10:29-35). Dear friends, I believe that here, in this hospital, the parable of the Good Samaritan is made tangible. Here there is no indifference, but concern. There is not apathy, but love.” (Pope Francis, Address at St. Francis of Assisi of the Providence of God Hospital, 7/24/13)
Has there ever been a time in your life when you felt desperate or alone? Where did help come from? When were you blessed by a stranger?
Who are today’s neighbors in need? How might God be calling you to respond?
“I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: let us be ‘protectors’ of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment.” (Pope Francis, Homily at Inauguration, 3/19/13)
Who might Pope Francis be addressing?
How can we all be more attentive to our responsibility to be protectors?
“We ask the risen Jesus, who turns death into life, to change hatred into love, vengeance into forgiveness, war into peace. Yes, Christ is our peace, and through him to implore peace for all the world.” (Pope Francis, Urbi et Orbi message, 3/31/13)
Where do you long for peace in your own life? In the world?