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Pope Francis and the gifts of Lent

Graphic courtesy of http://www.freebibleimages.org/

Is it that time already? Yes, it is! Lent is just a few weeks away and Pope Francis has released his thoughts for Lent and its gifts. “The Word Is a Gift. Other Persons Are a Gift

In Lent he invites us to

  • rediscover the gift of God’s word,
  • be purified of the sin that blinds us, and
  • serve Christ present in our brothers and sisters.

Some thoughts in preparation for Lent

  • Am I aware of the gift of God’s word and how do I treasure it?
  • What are the sins that blind me?
  • In what ways am I echoing age old evasive question “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

In his letter “The Word Is a Gift. Other Persons Are a Gift”, Pope Francis addresses these three questions in the context of the passage in the Gospel of Luke recounting the relation between the poor man Lazarus and the rich man who rejects him  (cf. Lk 16:19-31) This is a parable he often meditates on.

This is a parable he often meditates on. So it is not surprising that he invites us to consider it during this Lent. “Let us 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.”

Lazarus 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 summons to conversion and to change. The parable first invites us to open the doors of our heart to others because each person is a gift, whether it be our neighbour or an anonymous pauper. Lent is a favourable season for 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. But in order to do this, we have to take seriously what the Gospel tells us about the rich man.

His concluding words

Dear friends, Lent is the favorable season for renewing our encounter with Christ, living in his word, in the sacraments and in our neighbor. The Lord, who overcame the deceptions of the Tempter during the forty days in the desert, shows us the path we must take. May the Holy Spirit lead us on a true journey of conversion, so that we can rediscover the gift of God’s word, be purified of the sin that blinds us, and serve Christ present in our brothers and sisters in need. I encourage all the faithful to express this spiritual renewal also by sharing in the Lenten Campaigns promoted by many Church organizations in different parts of the world, and thus to favor the culture of encounter in our one human family. Let us pray for one another so that, by sharing in the victory of Christ, we may open our doors to the weak and poor. Then we will be able to experience and share to the full the joy of Easter.

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