REFLECTIONS ON THE POPE'S MONTHLY INTENTIONS
Editor's Note: Apostleship of Prayer receives monthly prayer intentions from the pope and urges Christians throughout the world to unite in prayer for those intentions. The reflections below seek to illuminate the Holy Father's concerns.
One day, Fr. Luigi Guanella (1842-1915), a member of the Apostleship of Prayer, was playing cards in Divine Providence House, a residence for the developmentally disabled. A bishop appeared and asked to see him but was told he would have to wait. The bishop responded, “Can’t he suspend the game for a while since that man understands so little?” He was told: “Exactly! The good child would never understand if Fr. Guanella treated another person as more important. They are the masters of this House.”
Many see people with developmental disabilities as “idiots,” “retards,” or “morons.” They have been ridiculed, rejected, and even hidden away in institutions as embarrassments to their families. The Nazis saw them as defective humans not worthy of life. Today in our own country, once their developmental disability is identified in utero, they become candidates for abortion. But to St. Louis Guanella (canonized in 2011) and to the groups he founded—the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence and Fathers of Charity—they are God’s good children.
Pope Francis has spoken frequently against our “throwaway culture” which discards people like so many undesirable objects. He said: “This culture of waste tends to become the common mentality that infects everyone. Human life, the person, is no longer perceived as a primary value to be respected and protected, especially if poor or disabled….”
And so we pray for God’s “good children,” that the image of God may always be seen in them, no matter what their disabilities.
What has been my experience of people with developmental disabilities?
John 9: 1-5 “So that the works of God may be made visible through him.”
Jesus began his public ministry in the synagogue of his home town, Nazareth, reading aloud these words from Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor.” Then he said, “Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing” Luke (4: 14-21).
At the time of Jesus, many saw poverty as punishment from God and riches as proof of God’s love. Thus many of the poor thought God did not love them. Jesus taught the opposite. He said, “Blessed are you who are poor” (Luke 6: 20), and shocked the apostles by telling them, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” (Luke 18: 24). With wealth comes the temptation to put God in second place and to bask in comfort while ignoring the needs of others.
Pope Francis has a deep love for those who are suffering from poverty—whether it be material, moral, or spiritual poverty. He wrote in The Joy of the Gospel: “God’s heart has a special place for the poor, so much so that he himself ‘became poor’” (2 Corinthians 8: 9).
If we are united to the Heart of Jesus, if we share his concerns and desires, then we too will love those who are suffering from poverty in its many forms. And our devotion to the Heart of Jesus will move us to share the Lord’s compassion and reach out to them. The Word of God will challenge and inspire us so that our prayer and service will “bring glad tidings to the poor,” just as Jesus did.
How does having a heart like the Heart of Jesus open me up to see and respond to the needs of the poor and suffering?
Luke 18: 18-30 Give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven.
O Jesus: I adore the throne of mercy—your Divine Heart which you have shown to people here on earth. I want to dwell there with confidence until the end of time to ask you, Jesus, to reach out with your salvation to all people for whom you have come. Amen.
--St. Louis Guanella
Links for September, 2014 Evangelization Intention
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