Pope Francis invites us to gather around the Lord’s table this weekend to receive from Christ “the gift and strength to live lives of poverty and to serve the poor.” He shared this invitation in his message for the Seventh World Day of the Poor, which is Nov. 19.
“If we were to invite someone to share our Sunday dinner, after sharing in the Eucharistic table, the Eucharist we celebrate would truly become a mark of communion,” the Holy Father said. “If it is true that around the altar of the Lord we are conscious that we are all brothers and sisters, how much more visible would our fraternity be, if we shared our festive meal with those who are in need!”
The Book of Tobit in the Old Testament provides the framework for the pope’s message. Tobit loved God and family and carried out works of justice and service. In his time of trouble, Tobit “discovers his own poverty, which enables him to recognize others who are poor,” Pope Francis says. “We are called to acknowledge every poor person and every form of poverty, abandoning the indifference and the banal excuses we make to protect our illusory well-being.”
Acknowledging and addressing “every poor person and every form of poverty” requires us to engage in the Two Feet of Social Justice, an approach that incorporates both social change and acts of charity. The late Msgr. Marvin Mottet, the first director of the Social Action office in the Diocese of Davenport, inspired this approach. He believed that effective social ministry must include work to address the root cause of injustice in society as well as acts of charity to address immediate needs.
His commitment to that approach led to the formation of a number of organizations and inspired many others, all of which seek to address the root cause of injustice. Now we have many opportunities throughout our diocese to address the root causes of injustice and to perform works of charity through the gifts of our time, talent and treasure.
Organizations in our diocese to support through our advocacy, service or charity include:
- Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa in Iowa City (cwjiowa.org).
- Quad Cities Interfaith (qcinterfaith.org).
- Iowa Catholic Conference
- Transitions DMC in Burlington
- Escucha Mi Voz Iowa (Hear My Voice,
- Project Renewal in Davenport
- Humility Homes & Services in the Quad Cities (humilityhomes.org).
Our support of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) collection that takes place this weekend, Nov. 18-19 throughout the parishes in our diocese, is another way to effect change. The collection benefits communities locally and nationwide and “empowers people living in poverty to transform the places they live into reflections of God,” Diocesan Administrator Father Ken Kuntz says in his letter supporting the campaign (see Page 3).
The ability to bring about change and transform lives is evident in several organizations that benefit from CCHD funds in our diocese: Center for Worker Justice, Escucha Mi Voz and Quad Cities Interfaith (read about the latest recipients on Page 1).
Quad Cities Interfaith (QCI) for example, is working on immigration and housing issues. Last month, QCI organized a Housing Justice Town Hall at Zion Lutheran Church in Davenport, which drew 150 community members, representatives of U.S. Senators Charles Grassley and Joni Ernst and of the Department of Justice, Community Relations Services. “Our housing work has focused on building the QC Tenant Alliance, which will train and organize tenants to hold landlords accountable and work with local and state officials for more tenant protections,” said Mayra Hernandez, QCI’s acting director.
People struggling with poverty need “our humanity, our hearts open to love,” Pope Francis said. “We are called to find Christ in them, to lend our voice to their causes, but also to be their friends, to listen to them, to speak for them and to embrace the mysterious wisdom which God wishes to share with us through them.”
Barb Arland-Fye, Editor