People have a basic choice in the way they live: either striving to build up treasures on earth or giving to others in order to gain heaven, Pope Francis has said.

“What we invest in love remains, the rest vanishes,” the Pope said in his homily on Sunday, the first World Day of the Poor.

Between 6,000 and 7,000 poor people attended the Mass in St Peter’s Basilica, where altar servers included the poor, migrants or homeless. The first reader was a refugee from Syria. After the Mass the Pope ate lunch with 1,500 people in the Paul VI audience hall.

“All too often, we have the idea that we haven’t done anything wrong, and so we rest content, presuming that we are good and just,” the Pope said in his homily.

“But to do no wrong is not enough. God is not an inspector looking for unstamped tickets; he is a Father looking for children to whom he can entrust his property and his plans.”

If in the eyes of the world, the poor have little value, he said, “they are the ones who open to us the way to heaven; they are our ‘passport to paradise’. For us it is an evangelical duty to care for them, as our real riches, and to do so not only by giving them bread, but also by breaking with them the bread of God’s word, which is addressed first to them.”

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