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Christians should care for the poor before themselves, Pontiff exhorts

Pope Francis has reminded believers to provide for the needs of the poor.
Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Pope Francis has exhorted believers to care for the needs of the poor first, rather than for their own wants and needs. Francis lamented that Western society has become entirely too materialistic and self-centered. “Jesus teaches us to put the needs of the poor ahead of our own,” the Pope said today at St. Peter's Square. “Our needs, even if legitimate, will never be so urgent as those of the poor, who lack the necessities of life.” The Holy Father reflected on the Gospel for today, Matthew 14:13-21, the account of Christ's feeding of the five thousand with but five loaves and two fishes. Catholics believe that this episode was a foreshadowing of the Eucharist, where Christ gives the faithful his own body and blood.

The Holy Father said that unlike the disciples, who seemed to react with dread to the fact that such a large multitude was following Jesus so late in the day, Jesus understood their need for both physical and spiritual sustenance, and wasn't inclined to make anyone go away. "Rather, He feels compassion, because He knows that they do not seek Him out of mere curiosity, but out of need...Jesus, teaches us to put the needs of the poor ahead of our own. Our needs, even if legitimate, will never be so urgent as those of the poor, who lack the necessities of life,” the Pope explained. Francis further pointed out that Christ's action in feeding the five thousand is an example of the compassion of God, which is a compassion that “identifies with the suffering of others, to the point of taking it upon himself...Thus is Jesus: he suffers among us, he suffers with us, he suffers for us.”

The Pontiff further said that as Christians, we should seek to take on this compassionate spirit of God, which ought to cause us to “feel that man, that woman, those babes who lack the necessities of life. Who do not have food to eat, do not have clothing, do not have the possibility of getting medicine, also those children who do not have the possibility of going to school.”

“How often do we turn away so that we do not see the brethren in need!” Pope Francis exclaimed. “Who approaches the Eucharist without compassion for the needy and without sharing, will not find themselves well with Jesus.”