Pope Francis has named this coming Sunday, November 19, 2017, the first World Day of the Poor. The Sunday gospel invites us to reflect on how to invest our talents in the world community. The pope’s namesake, Francis of Assisi, models building relationships with people who are poor. St. Francis attributed staying with lepers in Gubbio as a turning point in his conversion. Pope Francis hopes that our volunteer service and impromptu acts of generosity “lead to a true encounter with the poor and a sharing that becomes a way of life.”
The pope’s announcement is a retreat in itself as we prepare for Thanksgiving and Advent. He encourages “believers to react against a culture of discard and waste and to embrace the culture of encounter.” This is a Sunday to create moments of encounter and friendship, for volunteers and people who are poor to take part in Eucharist together, for parishes to make the poor honored guests at table.