The pope’s Lenten message — titled “The Word is a gift. Other persons are gift” — focuses on the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in the Gospel of St. Luke (16:19-31). In the Gospel account, Lazarus and his suffering are described in great detail. The parable shows that “a right relationship with people consists in gratefully recognising their value,” he said. “A poor person at the door of the rich is not a nuisance, but a summons to conversion and to change.”
While he is “practically invisible to the rich man,” the Gospel gives him a name and a face, upholding him as worthy, as “a gift, a priceless treasure, a human being whom God loves and cares for, despite his concrete condition as an outcast,” .
“The parable calls for sincere conversion”, the pope said, and it “provides a key to understanding what we need to do in order to attain true happiness and eternal life……Without making room for God’s word in their heart, people will never be able to welcome and love all human life…. Each life that we encounter is a gift deserving acceptance, respect and love,” the pope said.
Pope Francis reminds us of St. Paul’s warning that “Love of money is the root of all evils,” and the pope said, it is also “the main cause of corruption and a source of envy, strife and suspicion.”
“Instead of being an instrument at our service for doing good and showing solidarity toward others, money can chain us and the entire world to a selfish logic that leaves no room for love and hinders peace,” he added.
The real problem is for the rich man’s and those like him: “At the root of all his ills was the failure to heed God’s word. As a result, he no longer loved God and grew to despise his neighbor,” the pope said.
The pope asked that Lent be a time “for renewing our encounter with Christ, living in his word, in the sacraments and in our neighbour.”
“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,” he said, especially by taking part in the various Lenten campaigns sponsored by local churches.