Pope Francis asked people to pray on Thursday for families who are struggling to put food on the table during the coronavirus pandemic.
“In many places, one of the effects of this pandemic is that many families find themselves in need, and they are hungry,” Pope Francis said April 23 during the broadcast of his morning Mass.
“Let us pray for these families, for their dignity,” he added.
The pope said that the poor are suffering from “another pandemic”: the economic consequences of layoffs and furloughs. He said that the poor also suffer from the exploitation of unscrupulous money-lenders, and prayed for their conversion.
The coronavirus pandemic threatens food security in many parts of the world. David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Programme (WFP), based in Rome, said April 21 that the world was already facing “the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II” in 2020 before the pandemic.
“So today, with COVID-19, I want to stress that we are not only facing a global health pandemic but also a global humanitarian catastrophe," he told the UN Security Council via videolink. "If we don’t prepare and act now -- to secure access, avoid funding shortfalls and disruptions to trade -- we could be facing multiple famines of biblical proportions within a short few months.”
According to the WFP, 130 million people worldwide are on the edge of starvation during the pandemic.
In his homily in the chapel of Casa Santa Marta, his Vatican residence, Pope Francis reflected on Christ as our intercessor before God.
“We are accustomed to praying to Jesus to give us this grace, that other, to help us, but we are not accustomed to contemplating Jesus who shows the Father the wounds, to Jesus, the intercessor, to Jesus who prays for us,” the pope said.
“Let us think about this a little … For each of us Jesus prays. Jesus is the intercessor. Jesus wanted to bring his wounds with him to show them to the Father. It is the price of our salvation,” he said.
Pope Francis recalled an event in chapter 22 of the Gospel of Luke when Jesus said to Peter at the Last Supper: “Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed that your own faith may not fail.”
“This is Peter's secret,” the pope said. “Jesus' prayer. Jesus prays for Peter, so that his faith may not fail and he can - Jesus says - confirm his brothers in faith.”
“And Peter was able to go far, from coward to courageous, with the gift of the Holy Spirit thanks to the prayer of Jesus,” he added.
April 23 is the feast of St. George, Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s namesake. The Vatican celebrates the pope’s “name day” as an official state holiday.