Almighty Father, direct each thought, each effort of our life, so that the limits of our faults and weaknesses may not obscure the vision of your glory or keep us from the peace you have promised.
And I pray with Mary and the whole Church for the Pope’s intentions this month:
That political responsibility may be lived at all levels as a high form of charity.
That, amid social inequalities, Latin American Christians may bear witness to love for the poor and contribute to a more fraternal society.
When Pope Francis speaks of his desire for a poor Church at the service of the most vulnerable members of society, his words reflect his own experience of ministry in the most deprived areas of Buenos Aires.
Looking at his life history, it is no exaggeration to say that his work with the victims of poverty and injustice brought about a fundamental change in his way of understanding both his own personal mission and that of the Church as a whole. On his own admission, as a young priest he was a somewhat forbidding, even authoritarian, defender of institutions. In later life, his contact with the poor transformed him into a servant of people.
Once we accept that people must be the primary focus of our concern, it becomes crystal clear why solidarity and service are so central to authentic Christian belief. Of course, the fact that the world is dominated by a system that values material wealth and personal realisation above solidarity with others means that Christian faith is, inevitably, at odds with the prevailing cultural logic.
The Church in Latin America has been exemplary in identifying love for the poor as a distinguishing and essential component of genuine Christian faith. Formed by that same Church, Pope Francis now wishes to remind the universal Church that it is people – not institutions, rules, traditions, or anything else – that are precious in God’s eyes.
- Kevin O’Higgins SJ, extracted from Living Prayer