Family, home, dignity.
This month will be marked by the World Day of the Poor. In his message for this day, 14 November 2021, Pope Francis explains that there is a “powerful ‘empathy’ established between Jesus and the woman”.
We, the women of WUCWO, should be filled with deep joy and gratitude meditating on this empathetic relationship with Jesus. Empathy is a positive attitude that allows us to establish a particularly affective and healthy relationship of coexistence with Jesus and of identification and affinity with Him, at the same time as it assures us reciprocity, that is to say, the knowledge that He listens to us, understands our problems, emotions and longings and makes them His own.
Empathy is a word that comes from the Greek and is formed by ‘en’, which means ‘inside’ the subject, and ‘patos’ which means ‘affected, moved’. When there is empathy, there is an intimate understanding of the other's vital and intellectual situation. It is precisely this mutual understanding that generates affinity.
As we celebrate the World Day of the Poor this month, I ask myself and I ask you, dear friends, what are the main “affinities” between Jesus and us and what this “empathy” should lead us to. Three words come to mind: family, home and dignity.
The pandemic, on the one hand, has left us with a bitter taste for all those who have experienced death alone, but, on the other hand, it has led us to revalue family ties, the need for a healthy family, where the personalities of some help others grow, and no one is left out or harmed. How many poor people without families there are around us for whom we must care!
Care for the ecology of the family is fundamental. When an ideology denies the difference and reciprocity in nature of a man and a woman and envisages a society without sexual differences, it eliminates the anthropological basis of the family (cf. AL 56). This position must be accompanied by understanding and respect for people who do not live in this way because of their convictions, their often complex life stories, and must be preserved from all kind of discrimination.
In addition to the family, the affinity with Jesus brings me to the home, not only to the home that each family needs to develop as a proper family, but to the Common Home that God gave us. On 14 November, the Laudato si’ Platform will be officially launched, so that each of our families and organisations can participate in it. It is the poorest people in the world, who pollute the least and suffer the most from the harmful consequences of the lack of care for the planet, who are waiting for each one of us to make a change.
If we strive to respond to the cry of the Earth, we must also respond to the cry of families in difficult situations and their most vulnerable members. Our planet is in a unique crisis. It is troubling that when some environmental movements defend the integrity of the environment, they sometimes fail to apply those same principles to human life (cf. LS 136). Caring for the biodiversity of all living beings necessarily implies giving priority to the care of human life from conception to natural death, in its natural sphere of development: the family environment.
And this Day, precisely because of our empathy with Jesus, is also about the dignity of the poor. Let us look into the eyes of the poor close to us, as the Pope teaches us, and we will find what we can do for and with them. They have so much to teach us! Only if we create interconnection we can move forward.
Integral and sustainable development requires providing equal opportunities for access to quality education, health services, nutritious food, decent employment to the poorest families, to those divided by forced migration and especially to “discarded” families. Having a home has much to do with the dignity and growth of families (LS 152). Family, home and dignity are deeply connected in the heart of Jesus and therefore must also be connected in ours.
May Mary, our Mother, guide us so that our deep affinity with Jesus is reflected in concrete actions with the poor on the occasion of this World Day.
María Lía Zervino, Servidora
WUCWO President General