This Lent, the Pope speaks of three messages, expounding on the parable of the poor man Lazarus and the rich man. (For the full text of the Pope’s message, go to press.vatican.va.)
The other person is a gift.
Let us open our hearts and minds to everyone around us. Have we been Christian enough to recognize that the janitor who cleans our desks and office space every day is a person who is a gift to us as he/she serves our daily needs?
How often have we said thank you to our spouse or children for being there for us? When was the last time you hugged your parents and thanked them for making you what you are now?
When we say something hurtful to anyone, do we justify it as something that was deserving of the other party? Have we been brave enough to say sorry even as we realize how wrong we have been?
The Holy Father Francis said in his Lenten message: “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.”
Let this Lenten season be the start of our conversion and change to becoming a better person.
Sin blinds us.
If we have become callous to appreciating other people, it may be because we have sunk deeply into the comforts of material life that we have forgotten the misery and anguish that other people around us experience and struggle to face.
The Pope said: “The lowest rung of this moral degradation is pride. The rich man dresses like a king and acts like a god, forgetting he is merely mortal. For those corrupted by love of riches, nothing exists beyond their own ego.”
Being blinded to the priceless value of other people often springs from an addiction to worldly values: having a grand house, aspiring for a sports car, climbing the career ladder at all cost, stepping on others to be able to achieve a goal.
We need money, but we should not love money. The Bible tells us in many ways that we cannot serve two masters: one cannot be a slave to both God and money.
The Word is a gift.
More than the obsession on worldly things, the Pope reminds us that the rich man in the parable had become numbed to other people because he had failed to heed the word of 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,” the Pope said.
Have we, too, forgotten the message of God? Do we go to mass on Sundays without really hearing what God is saying?
This Lent, let us listen more intently to what God is saying so that we may become better persons. This is a blessed time to reflect on God’s word when the whole Christian world prays for.
The Holy Father ends with this plea: “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.”
May we truly be blessed in the next few days to be able to experience a genuine renewal of our faith and a joyful Easter rebirth. Let us fervently pray together.