No. 916 Diocese of Marbel, Philippines 18 February 2017
- POPE FRANCIS’ 2017 LENTEN MESSAGE
Released from the Vatican 18 October 2016.
“The Word is a gift. Other persons are a gift.”
Pope Francis writes “Lent is a new beginning, a path leading to the certain goal of Easter, Christ’s victory over death. This Season urgently calls us to conversion. Christians are asked to return to God ‘with all their hearts’ (Joel 2: 12), to refuse to settle for mediocrity and to grow in friendship with the Lord.”
“Lent, Pope Francis continues, is a favorable season for deepening our spiritual life through the means of sanctification offered us by the Church: fasting, prayer and almsgiving. At the basis of everything is the Word of God, which during this season we are invited to hear and ponder more deeply.”
Then Pope Francis propose for our consideration the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (cf. Lk. 16: 19-31). “Let us, he says, “find inspiration in this meaningful story, for it provides a key to understanding what we need to do in order to attain true happiness and eternal life. It exhorts us to sincere conversion.”
- “The other person is a gift” (A gift is gladly and gratefully received. G.)
Lazarus is the poor man’s name. “It means God helps”. Lazarus is Latinized of Hebrew Eleazar. His body, full of sores, he lies at the rich man’s door, feeding on crumbs falling from his table. “The picture is one of great misery. Unnoticed. Pitiful!
“Lazarus”, writes Pope Francis, “teaches us that other persons are a gift. A right relationship with people consists in gratefully recognizing their value. Even the poor person at the door of the rich is not a nuisance, but a summon to conversion and to change… Lent is a favorable season in opening the doors to all those in need and recognizing in them the face of Christ.” Each of us meets people like this every day. Each life that we encounter is a gift deserving acceptance, respect and love. The Word of God helps us to open our eyes to welcome and love life, especially when it is weak and vulnerable.
- “Sin blinds us”
The rich man has no name. rich in Latin is “dives”. “His opulence, according to Pope Francis, “was seen in his extravagant and expensive robes. Purple was even more precious than silver and gold and was thus reserved to divinities (cf. Jer. 10: 9) and Kings (cf. Jg. 8: 26), while fine linen gave one an almost sacred character. He feasted sumptuously every day (v. 19). In him we can catch a dramatic glimpse of the corruption of sin, which progresses in three successive stages: love of money, vanity and pride.
- “The Word is a gift”
“The Gospel of the rich man and Lazarus helps us to make a good preparation for the approach of Easter.”
The Liturgy of Ash Wednesday invites us to remember that we came from dust and to the dust we shall return.
The rich man and the poor man both died. Lazarus was happy with Abraham. The rich man was suffering. He wanted Lazarus to alleviate his suffering with a drop of water. Now he recognized Lazarus. The rich man then asked Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his brothers who were still alive. When told by Abraham that his brothers had Moses and the prophets and should listen to him. “If they will not listen to Moses or to the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone should rise from the dead.” (v. 31)
“Failure to heed God’s word”, Pope Francis concludes, “is at the root of all his (rich man’s) ills. As a result, he no longer loved God and grew to despise his neighbors. The Word of God is alive and powerful, capable of converting hearts and leading them back to God. When we close our heart to the gift of God’s Word, we end up closing our heart to the gift of our brothers and sisters.
Pope Francis exhorted all to “serve Christ in our brothers and sisters in need”. ALAY KAPWA!