In his message published June 13, the pope wrote that “generosity that supports the weak, consoles the afflicted, relieves suffering and restores dignity to those stripped of it, is a condition for a fully human life.”
He stressed that the time given in support of the poor cannot be put second to one’s personal interests.
“The decision to care for the poor, for their many different needs, cannot be conditioned by the time available or by private interests, or by impersonal pastoral or social projects,” he said.
“The power of God’s grace cannot be restrained by the selfish tendency to put ourselves always first,” he added.
The pope recognized that the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic has left many people feeling “poorer and less self- sufficient.”
“The present experience has challenged many of our assumptions,” he said. “The loss of employment, and of opportunities to be close to our loved ones and our regular acquaintances, suddenly opened our eyes to horizons that we had long since taken for granted. Our spiritual and material resources were called into question and we found ourselves experiencing fear.”
Francis pointed to the wisdom found in the Old Testament Book of Sirach. “In page after page, we discover a precious compendium of advice on how to act in the light of a close relationship with God, creator and lover of creation, just and provident towards all his children,” he said.
Quoting Sirach chapter two, the pope said: “‘Do not be alarmed when disaster comes. Cling to him and do not leave him, so that you may be honored at the end of your days. Whatever happens to you, accept it, and in the uncertainties of your humble state, be patient, since gold is tested in the fire, and chosen men in the furnace of humiliation. Trust him and he will uphold you, follow a straight path and hope in him. You who fear the Lord, wait for his mercy; do not turn aside in case you fall.’”
Pope Francis said: “The Church certainly has no comprehensive solutions to propose, but by the grace of Christ she can offer her witness and her gestures of charity."
“She likewise feels compelled to speak out on behalf of those who lack life’s basic necessities. For the Christian people, to remind everyone of the great value of the common good is a vital commitment, expressed in the effort to ensure that no one whose human dignity is violated in its basic needs will be forgotten,” he added.