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Pope Francis: Light Candles of Hope in the Midst of Darkness
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On the World Day of the Poor, Pope Francis encouraged Christians to not be brought down by the "doom and gloom" of the world, but to witness to the joy of the Gospel through service to those in need.
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"Let us take to heart the clear and unmistakable summons in the Gospel not to be led astray. Let us not listen to prophets of doom," the pope said at Mass in St. Peter's Basilica Nov. 13.
"Instead, let us bear witness," he said. "Let us light candles of hope in the midst of darkness. Amid dramatic situations, let us seize opportunities to bear witness to the Gospel of joy and to build a more fraternal world, at least a little more fraternal. Let us commit ourselves courageously to justice, the rule of law and peace, and stand at the side of the weakest."
Pope Francis, assisted by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, celebrated Mass for the sixth annual World Day of the Poor, which was established at the conclusion of the Year of Mercy.
The poor were special guests at the Mass in St. Peter's Basilica. The day was also marked by a number of initiatives to aid those in need, including a free meal and medical care.
In his homily, Pope Francis urged Christians to not let themselves become victims of the many crises happening in the world -- such as war, famine, poverty, and natural disasters -- but take action where they can.
He pointed to the day's Gospel, Luke 21:5-19, in which Jesus says to not be deceived by false prophets.
"It is not by chance that Jesus' second exhortation, after 'do not be led astray,' is positive," the pope said. "He says: 'This will give you an opportunity to testify.'"
"I want to emphasize this fine word: opportunity," Francis said. "It means having the chance to do something good, starting from our situation in life, even when it is not ideal."
"A disciple of the Lord," he added, "should not yield to resignation or give in to discouragement, even in the most difficult situations, for our God is the God of resurrection and hope, who always raises up: with him we can lift up our gaze and begin anew."
Pope Francis said Christians, when encountering trials, should ask themselves: "What is the Lord saying to us through this moment of crisis?"
The poor pay the heaviest price, he said, issuing a warning about hardened hearts.
"If our heart is deadened and indifferent, we cannot hear their faint cry of pain, we cannot cry with them and for them, we cannot see how much loneliness and anguish also lie hidden in the forgotten corners of our cities."
Put your trust in God the Father, he said: "We should always repeat this to ourselves, especially at times of greatest trouble: God is a Father, and he is at my side. He knows and loves me; he does not sleep, but watches over me and cares for me. If I stay close to him, not a hair of my head will perish."
"Since he loves us, let us resolve to love him in the most abandoned of his children," the pope said, and "let us care for the poor, in whom we find Jesus, who became poor for our sake."
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