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Living Our Faith: Caring for the poor

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Deacon Joe Bourgeois hugs a homeless man after giving him food in Cleveland Feb. 28. In Pope Francis' exhortation, "Gaudete et Exsultate" ("Rejoice and Be Glad"), the pope says that the path to holiness is made up of small steps in prayer, in sacrifice and in service to others. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

“Become a beggar. That’s what is lacking, learning to beg from those to whom we give,” Pope Francis told youths when he visited the Philippines in January 2015. He meant he wanted the youths “to be evangelized by” those they serve. “The persons we help, the poor, the sick, orphans, have much to give us,” the pope insisted. He encouraged respect for the poor, asking the youths to think not only of giving something to them but also of learning from them.

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Food for Thought

The story has been told many times. A Brazilian cardinal whispered to then Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, “don’t forget the poor,” as he began his papacy as Pope Francis. He chose the name after the saint devoted to the poor. He has often said there is much to learn from the homeless, from the poor, and anyone that society treats as downtrodden or disenfranchised.

He often repeats some form of the poem that says “for it is in giving that we receive.”

“The persons we help, the poor, the sick, orphans, have much to give us,” Pope Francis said to a group of young people on his visit to the Philippines in January 2015. “You who live by always giving, and think that you need nothing, do you realize that you are poor yourself? Do you realize that you are very poor and that you need what they can give you? Do you let yourself be evangelized by the poor, by the sick, by those you assist?”