“Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food,
or thirsty and gave you something to drink?
And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you,
or naked and gave you clothing?
And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?”
And the king will answer them,
“Truly I tell you,
just as you did it to one of the least of these
who are members of my family, you did it to me.” Matthew 25.37-40
On this World Day of the Poor (33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time)
we must raise our voices in prayer for the poor of our country and world.
Our prayer then must become action and not simply empty words.
As you will see below, we have work to do.
We begin again with a prayer for the poor.
For the homeless poor,
for the approximately 235,000 Canadians a year who are homeless
of which 20% is young people between the ages of 16 and 24,
and 14% are children.
For the hungry poor,
for the 4.4 million Canadians who are food insecure,
which is 12% of our population,
of which 1.2 million are children.
For the thirsty poor,
for the communities (most being First Nations) that deal with water advisories every day,
which is 73% of First Nations communities
of which 5000 people are affected daily.
For the naked poor,
for those who can not afford to buy clothing,
which for many find their dry socks and shoes in donation bins,
of which countless are children living shelter insecure.
For the stranger poor,
for the 50 million children around the world who have become refugees or migrants
which would equal about three quarters of Canada’s population
of which all are seeking a safe and happy life.
For the imprisoned poor,
for those wrong imprisoned, for those imprisoned because of lack of mental health supports
which by the age of 40, about 50% of the Canadian population will have experienced mental illness
of which suicide is the leading cause of death.
you who loves all your children,
you call us to the commandment of love
which means we must look beyond ourselves.
May our prayers shift from our wants and wishes
to be prayers for courage and vision
on how to be in solidarity with the poor
and show them love in action,
so as to see them for the person they are
and the dignity they deserve.
Creator of all,
we are struggling to be sisters and brothers,
our blinders are on too tight
and we are afraid to take them off.
May we with courage remove them
and extend a hand
so that our prayers become actions
and our actions are not simply charity cases
but the beginning of relationship
to strengthen the gift and bond of the human family.