World Day of the Poor

This Sunday (November 15) is World Day of the Poor

In 2017, Pope Francis instituted the World Day of the Poor so that “throughout the world Christian communities can become an ever greater sign of Christ’s charity for the least and those most in need.”

It is said that there are three types of givers: grudge givers, duty givers and thanks givers.  Grudge givers say “I hate to give.”  Grudge givers give reluctantly and with a certain feeling of resentment.  Duty givers say “I ought to give…”  Duty givers also give reluctantly and with certain feeling of obligation.  Thanks givers say “I want to give.”  They give from the heart, without a feeling of resentment or obligation.

When St Paul was addressing the Christians in Corinth about a special collection for the poor in Jerusalem, he writes: “Each must do as already determined, without sadness or compulsion” (referring to the grudge and duty givers), “for God loves a cheerful giver” (referring now to thanks givers).   Jesus refers to thanks givers when he asserts: “Give and gifts will be given to you.  Good measure, packed together, shaken together, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap…” (Luke 6:38)

It is commonly said that because we receive everything from God, including every breath we take, God can never be in our debt.  We are always indebted to God because we owe Him everything we are and have.  There is an exception: “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord and will be paid in full.” (Proverbs 19:17).  If we want God to be indebted to us, we have to give to the poor and the needy.  That way we lend to God.  No loan can ever be safer.  And it will be repaid many times over…

Rabindranath Tagore wrote in his Gitanjali the following: “I had gone, begging from door to door, on the village road, when your golden chariot appeared in the distance, like a splendid dream.  And I was admiring who was that King of all kings.  My hopes soared and I thought: ‘My bad days are over’ and already I stood anticipating spontaneous alms and riches scattered everywhere in the dust.  The chariot stopped where I was standing.  Your eyes fell on me and you dismounted with a smile.  I felt that the chance of a lifetime had finally come my way.  Then, suddenly you extended your right hand and said to me: ‘What have you to give me?’  Oh, what royal sport was that?  Put out a hand to beg from a beggar?  I was embarrassed and lost.  Finally, from my beggar’s bag I slowly took out a tiny grain of wheat and gave it to you.  But how great was my surprise when, at the day’s end, I found a tiny grain of gold among the heap of ordinary grains.  Then I wept bitterly and thought: If only I had had the heart to give everything…”