Message of His Holiness Pope Francis
for the First World Day of the Poor
Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
19 November 2017
Let us love, not with words but with deeds
1. “Little children, let us not love in word or speech, but in deed and in truth” (1 Jn 3:18). These words of the Apostle John voice an imperative that no Christian may disregard. The seriousness with which the “beloved disciple” hands down Jesus’ command to our own day is made even clearer by the contrast between the empty words so frequently on our lips and the concrete deeds against which we are called to measure ourselves. Love has no alibi. Whenever we set out to love as Jesus loved, we have to take the Lord as our example; especially when it comes to loving the poor. The Son of God’s way of loving is well-known, and John spells it out clearly. It stands on two pillars: God loved us first (cf. 1 Jn 4:10.19), and he loved us by giving completely of himself, even to laying down his life (cf. 1 Jn 3:16).
Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31; Psalm 128:1-2, 3, 4-5; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6; Mt 25:14-30
To fear, or not to fear—that is the question. Or so it can seem after an initial glance at today’s readings. The responsorial psalm proclaims, “Blessed are those who fear the Lord.” Such fear is obviously a positive thing. But in the gospel reading, the third servant “out of fear” hides the gift entrusted to him. And because he does so, he is severely reprimanded by his master. In this case, fear leads to the servant losing everything. It is obviously something negative.
Wisdom 18:14-16; 19:6-9; Luke 18:1-8
Jesus wants his disciples to be in continual dialogue with his most dear Father, just as He was. And Jesus exhorts his disciples to intensify this dialogue during times of stress, just as He did. The dialogue is, of course, prayer.
In today's Gospel Jesus chooses the rather strange parable of the corrupt judge to illustrate his point of praying always, especially in need. The judge ultimately grants the widow's petition not because the petition was just but because he does not want to be disturbed: "While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me."