THE ELIMINATION OF POVERTY
“To want to eliminate poverty means to want to heal the wounds of humanity along with its environmental and cultural, social, economic and religious relations.”
Pax et bonum to all of you!
The theme of this month, “The Elimination of Poverty,” becomes today a task that is more and more difficult. At the same time it is the responsibility of everyone. To be able to write these few lines, I have let myself be inspired by our present charism, which is more important than ever.
Of course, to eliminate poverty means to want to achieve at all cost the fundamental objective of a sustainable development, a development that answers not only the needs of people of our time, but also the needs of future generations. It is a struggle that necessitates fundamental requirements, such as, a change of behavior -- not only on a personal level -- but on a community level as well.
To want to eliminate poverty means to want to heal the wounds of humanity along with its environmental and cultural, social, economic and religious relations. To allow a child to dream of having a life without illness and without hunger in a country without conflicts cannot be only a utopia. To improve the life condition of these populations, it is an absolute priority (and one that is urgent) to achieve concrete actions through the realization of projects. In all of this our governments have a role to play if we want a just distribution of goods that would allow a universally balanced life.
The elimination of poverty also compels us to create a strong foundation in the faith and love of God and in the love for our neighbor as Jesus taught us in his commandment. The love for God and the love for our neighbor are deeply connected: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22: 37) “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22: 39)
Through our mission of announcing the faith in the strictest respect of the laws and in the liberty of conscience, we want to assure the values and pastoral propositions elaborated upon in our environment. For example : To educate, take care of and promote the person, the whole person; to awaken the conscience of every person; not merely have to worry about a person, but to welcome a person and give a person his/her just part.
God's love is not something far away in the heavens; on the contrary it is embodied in daily life. “If anyone says, ‘I love God’, but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” (1 John 4: 20) This love must become visible not only through material things and piety towards the poorest, but also through a real love filled with affection, responsibility, attention and listening.
This love implies its riches and risks, but this love has also been the mission of the Christ, which was to love to the point of giving up His own life. If we show this love for each other, everyone will recognize us as His disciples. This faith has allowed us to be begotten by God and therefore makes us all brothers and sisters. “Everyone who loves the father loves (also) the one begotten by him.” (1 John 5: 1) It is this love that will allow us to eliminate poverty on earth and to live together harmoniously in our civil societies following the example of the first Christian community: “All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one's need.” (Acts 2: 44)
Only in this way will “Our Father” make everything authentic on earth as it is in heaven as God thought: “In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth...” (Genesis 1: 1) “Then God said: Let us make man and woman in our image, after our likeness...” (Genesis 1: 26) “God created man in God’s image; in the divine image God created him; male and female God created them....” (Genesis 1: 27)
© Franciscan Sisters of the Poor