In today’s Gospel, we hear the Parable of the Talents. In one way, this parable stresses the importance of recognizing that all our skills and abilities are gifts from God, and we are expected to put them to use in a way that glorifies God.
At a much deeper level, this parable should remind us of our Baptism. It is in our Baptism that we are initially called to participate in the ministry of Jesus Christ as Priest, Prophet and King. This threefold ministry is not one of quiet spiritual reflection but of action!
We are reminded of our obligation to use our God-given talents in the service of others. Just a week before we hear the pericope of the Judgment of the Nations in which we are told that our salvation is contingent upon feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, and visiting those who are sick or imprisoned. The message is clear: God has provided us with talents we must use, and our salvation depends on how we respond to human need.
We live in a world where far too many people lack the basic necessities to live in a way that upholds their human dignity. The vast majority of those who suffer in profound poverty do so through no fault of their own. They are often poor simply due to where they were born, and its associated lack of educational, vocational, and employment opportunities. With ever-growing restrictions on migration, they find themselves trapped in a web of poverty with little opportunity to escape.
Today, Pope Francis calls us to recognize them as part of the World Day of the Poor. But, as we have heard in the Gospel, we cannot simply pray for the poor and teach others about the poor; Jesus demands that we live that kingly vocation and serve the poor.
How can we do that?
HERE ARE 5 WAYS YOU CAN OBSERVE THE WORLD DAY OF THE POOR:
1. PRAY FOR THE POOR. There are so many people who need our prayers. If you’re overwhelmed and not sure where to start, try praying with your newsfeed. As you see headlines about what’s happening around the world, pause and pray for the people affected by those stories.
2. PRACTICE THE CORPORAL WORKS OF MERCY. The Corporal Works of Mercy are drawn from Jesus’ life and teachings. They call us to: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, shelter the homeless, visit the sick and imprisoned, bury the dead and give alms to the poor. Pope Francis added a new work of mercy: to care for God’s creation. The Corporal Works of Mercy offer a clear model and starting point for how to care for our neighbours in need.
3. MAKE CARING FOR THE POOR PART OF YOUR ROUTINE. Do you buy coffee, chocolate or Christmas gifts? One way to support low-income workers around the world is by buying things you use on a regular basis from organizations that pay a fair wage. If you drink coffee or tea, look for a fair trade label, which means that the farmers who harvest the coffee or tea are paid fairly and work in safe conditions. As you begin your Christmas shopping, consider buying gifts from around the world that are produced and traded ethically.
4. LEARN ABOUT THE CAUSES OF POVERTY AND WORK TO CHANGE THEM. There are many reasons why people around the world are trapped in poverty: lack of jobs, war and climate change that affects what farmers can grow are only a few examples. We can raise our voices together to ask our government to support policies that help address these causes of poverty.
5. SUPPORT THE CHURCH’S OUTREACH TO THE POOR. One way to care for the poor around the world is to support the work of Catholic Relief Services, the international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. CRS is motivated by the example of Jesus Christ to assist poor and suffering people in more than 100 countries. Learn more and get involved at crs.org/world-day-poor.