Pope Francis has shared lunch with around 1,200 poor, homeless and refugees, from around Rome while also decrying the material, cultural and spiritual poverties that exist in the world as "scandal."
The Pope had lunch with people from Rome's poor and economically disadvantaged for the World Day of the Poor on Nov. 19, 2023, Catholic News Agency reported.
The lunch was served in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall and preceded by the Angelus and a special Mass reported CNA.
"We are living in times that are not particularly sensitive to the needs of the poor. The pressure to adopt an affluent lifestyle increases, while the voices of those dwelling in poverty tend to go unheard," said the pontiff in his sermon at the mass.
"We are inclined to neglect anything that varies from the model of life set before the younger generation, those who are most vulnerable to the cultural changes now taking place."
EXHALTING PHYSICAL QUALITIES
Francis said people disregard anything unpleasant or that causes suffering, and exalt physical qualities as if they were life's primary goal.
Among the 5,000 who filled the basilica for Mass were homeless persons and other people in need who were seated in the front rows near Pope Francis, Catholic News Service reported.
After celebrating Mass and praying the Angelus, the pope ate lunch in the Vatican audience hall the group of more than 1,200 people, continuing a tradition he began on the first World Day of the Poor in 2017, said CNS.
According to CAN, the lunch, The lunch was offered by Hilton Hotels and organized by the Vatican's charity office and the Sant'Egidio community.
The meal included spinach and ricotta cheese-stuffed cannelloni, meatballs with tomato sauce, and a cauliflower purée. The dessert was tiramisu and small pastries.
World Day of the Poor, the seventh edition, this year drew its theme from the Book of Tobit: "Do not turn your face away from anyone who is poor."
In the week leading up to the world day, the Vatican extended the hours and operations of a medical clinic it runs near St. Peter's Square dedicated to caring for anyone in need, said CNS.
'GIFT OF LOVE'
In his homily at the Mass, the Pope said that Christians "have received from the Lord the gift of his love and we are called to become a gift to others."
"Virtual reality is overtaking real life, and increasingly the two worlds blend into one. The poor become a film clip that can affect us for a moment, yet when we encounter them in flesh and blood on our streets, we are annoyed and look the other way," preached the pontiff.
He said that haste is now the people's daily companion, preventing them from stopping to help care for others.
"The parable of the Good Samaritan (cf. Lk 10:25-37) is not simply a story from the past; it continues to challenge each of us in the here and now of our daily lives. It is easy to delegate charity to others, yet the calling of every Christian is to become personally involved," said Pope Francis.