Charity registration No. SC002876  
Sunday November 10th. 2013
Pope Francis with the sick in St. Peter’s Square
Pope Francis has made it clear, he wants to be a pontiff who ministers to everyone. At the end of his general audience at St. Peter’s Square on Wednesday, the 76-year-old leader of the Catholic Church shared a compassionate moment with a man whose face appeared to be plagued with boils. Pope Francis kissed the man’s head and then held him as he prayed. “True power is service. The pope must serve all people, especially the poor, the weak, the vulnerable,” Pope Francis said  in March after a body of cardinals elected him to lead the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics. Humility has been a cornerstone for the new pope, who has made it clear he wants to build a more inclusive Church. In one of his first acts as pope, during a Holy Thursday ceremony, the pontiff washed the feet of 12 young prisoners. Pope Francis has also chosen to live a simple life. He has declined to live in the  papal apartments, insists on carrying his own bags and has been known to travel around the Vatican in a 1984 Renault. Following in the steps of Pope Francis, Give the Gift of Happiness to the poor this Christmas Already, Television and  newspapers  adverts are pressurising us to spend an excessive amount of money on gifts and pleasure this Christmas. Thousands of people who can’t afford gifts are being attracted to short term loans being offered by firms such as Wonga and others to enable them to spend money which they cannot afford. The end result is they have to pay an excessive and immoral amount in interest which they cannot afford, and some borrow from other firms to pay their first loan. The consequence of this is just unthinkable,  for they find themselves in a situation where their debit has become impossible – and the whole family suffers — and the law moves in! We see so much poverty in the world, children dying because of the lack of the very basic necessities of life.  It makes us all feel so guilty to see children  helpless in the arms of their mother, so skeletal, just skin covering their little bones, and who will probably die very shortly. Yet, they could be saved and nourished back to health again if they just had the bare necessities to live. Pope Francis is preaching the true Gospel of Christ’s love of the poor, and if we are his followers the same is expected of us. Perhaps, we should all ask ourselves this Christmas:  Do we really need to give expensive presents to our family, relations and friends.  Let us give something simple instead and gift the extra money we would have spent to the poor. This can have a domino effect, and others may follow our example. I don’t think we have to feel embarrassed at our decision, for it is a decision to follow Christ's precept to care for the poor.  “When I was hungry you gave me to eat...when I was naked, you clothed me…. when I was sick to comforted me...when I was in prison you visited me.”  The just will say; “Lord when did we see you as such and minister to you?” He will tell them: “whenever you did it to the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.”
How can you give to the poor? We have two great trustworthy organisations —  SCIAF and MARY’S  MEALS — who are in constant touch with the poor and needy in so many countries, continually helping them with food, clothing and shelter. SCIAF have leaflets at the back of the church which will tell you how you can help in a very practical way by providing for a mother and her children, buying a goat or hens to provide milk and food,  assuring that families have clean water, supplying medical aid, especially to pregnant mothers and babies. MARY’S MEALS feeds 750,000 each day. Whatever you contribute goes immediately to feeding children in many parts of the world. The workers are mostly volunteers, so expenses are reduced to a minimum. You may wish to send your Christmas gift to the poor through the parish, and I will assure that it will be sent immediately to the organisation of your choice.