Pope Francis also lamented problems affecting workers, including “the inhumane treatment meted out to many male and female laborers; inadequate pay for work done; the scourge of job insecurity; and the excessive number of accident-related deaths, often the result of a mentality that chooses quick profit over a secure workplace.”
“We are reminded of the insistence of St. John Paul II that ‘the primary basis of the value of work is man himself… However true it may be that man is destined for work and called to it, in the first place, work is ‘for man’ and not man ‘for work,’” he said, quoting John Paul II’s encyclical Laborem Exercens.
Francis, who is currently recovering in the hospital after a hernia surgery, wrote that “caring for the poor is more than simply a matter of a hasty handout.”
He said that caring for the poor requires “reestablishing the just interpersonal relationships that poverty harms” and leads us to “enjoy the benefits of mercy and charity that give meaning and value to our entire Christian life.”
“What the poor need is certainly our humanity, our hearts open to love,” Pope Francis said.
“Faith teaches us that every poor person is a son or daughter of God and that Christ is present in them. ‘Just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me’ (Mt 25:40).”
Pope Francis also quoted St. Thérèse of Lisieux, who wrote in her autobiography, “Story of a Soul,” that “charity must not remain locked in the depths of one’s heart.”
“‘No one,’ Jesus says, ‘lights a candle to put it under a bushel basket, but puts it on a candlestand, so that it can give light to everyone in the house.’ For me, that candle represents the charity that must give light and bring joy not only to those dearest to me, but to everyone in the house, with the exception of none,” the French Carmelite nun wrote.
Pope Francis added: “In this house of ours, which is the world, everyone has a right to experience the light of charity; no one must be deprived of that light. May the steadfast love of St. Thérése stir our hearts on this World Day of the Poor and help us not to ‘turn our face away from anyone who is poor’ but to keep it always focused on the human and divine face of Jesus Christ, Our Lord.”