“For Your Sakes, Christ Became Poor” (cf. 2 Cor 8: 9) is the theme chosen by the Holy Father, Pope Francis, for the 6th World Day of the Poor (WDP). The Holy Father encourages us to show “greater solidarity and responsibility for the poor in our society” by not forgetting them, and the hardships they face in their lives.
The Universal Church observes WDP each year on the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time and this year it falls on 13 November. It is celebrated annually in honour of the poor, socially marginalised and underprivileged, as we carry out the mission of the Church with the spirit of solidarity, responsibility and mercy.
In His message, the Holy Father highlights that the war in Ukraine has added to the death and destruction of humanity. Furthermore, this senselessness of war has caused the deportation of thousands of vulnerable people - men and women, children and the elderly, to neighbouring countries. There are still a great number of people who remain in war zones, living in fear and uncertainty - lacking food, water and medical care. They are in need of relief and peace, and most of all our prayers for them.
During his visit to Jerusalem, St Paul met the Apostles Peter, James and John, and he urged them not to forget the poor. The community of Jerusalem was going through hardship because of a shortage of food at that time. The Apostles organised “a great collection to aid the poverty-stricken in Jerusalem” and encouraged the Christian community in Corinth to contribute every first day of the week to support and be generous towards the poor.
Since then, the Church does collections during Mass to provide for the needs of the poor. We, Christians give “with joy and a sense of responsibility, to ensure that none of our brothers and sisters will lack the necessities of life.” The Peninsula Malaysian churches have set the second collection on the first Sunday of every month for the poor, and this is used for the basic necessities of those in need.
I have observed the WDP celebrations since serving in my previous Parish of St Joseph, Kuala Lumpur, when the Holy Father promulgated it at the end of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy in 2016. Underprivileged people from the community were invited to be part of our celebrations with food, games and entertainment. All proceeds from that event were then utilised to continue helping the poor.
This year, the celebration for WDP & Family Day continues at the Church of St Thomas here in Kuantan. Our main objective of this WDP event is to bring the poor, migrants and refugees as well as the Orang Asli within our community together. There will be many food stalls, games, funfair and entertainment, and all proceeds from the sale of coupons and donations will be channelled towards flood relief during the monsoon season, and for the basic necessities and education of the needy.
May our celebration of World Day of the Poor & Family Day 2022 be a grace-filled day with solidarity, love and care for those who need it the most.