PREPARING FOR LENT

As I began preparing a blog for the beginning of Lent, I went looking for some themes.  I have decided to use Pope Francis’ Lenten address in the public square as my template.  I will dare to make some of my own reflections in italics to Pope Francis’ elegant address to the Church at large..

POPE FRANCIS 2017 LENTEN ADDRESS

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

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),…

MY REFLECTION

All of us need a freshening up from time to time so why not the soul, call to conversion is daily but Lent really provides us special time and focus with the aid of Scripture readings at Mass and performing special acts of charity by providing for the needs of our brothers and sisters

POPE FRANCIS

Lent is a favorable season for deepening our spiritual life through the means of sanctification offered us by the Church: fasting, prayer and almsgiving. I would now like to consider the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (cf. Lk 16:19-31). …

The parable begins by presenting its two main characters.  The poor man is described in greater detail: he is wretched and lacks the strength even to stand. Lying before the door of the rich man, he fed on the crumbs falling from his table. His body is full of sores and dogs come to lick his wounds. The picture is one of great misery; it portrays a man disgraced and pitiful.

MY REFLECTION

Lazarus is the face of Christ, he is metaphor for everyone we might consider the least of our brethren and I don’t just mean materially but we may make judgements about the worthiness of someone who has no appeal to us, someone who is different in looks and behavior and opinion,  am I too dismissive and harsh in my treatment of anyone just because they are different

POPE FRANCIS

Lazarus is not an anonymous character. His features are clearly delineated and he appears as an individual with his own story. While practically invisible to the rich man, we see and know him as someone familiar. He becomes a face, and as such, a gift, a priceless treasure, a human being whom God loves and cares for, despite his concrete condition as an outcast…

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.

MY REFLECTION

How many times do I get annoyed or inconvenienced by some interruption in MY daily routine, do I miss God may be having something else in mind for me,  someone may be needing me more than I need my agenda

POPE FRANCIS

The parable first invites us to open the doors of our heart to others because each person is a gift, whether it be our neighbor or an anonymous pauper. Lent is a favorable season for opening the doors to all those in need and recognizing in them the face of Christ…

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….

MY REFLECTION

Are we listening though to God.  Are we too busy about our own things, our own ambitions, our own gathering of the sweet life of comfort and ease,  are we too comfortable in this world, a world who has ignored or reduced its Creator to absentee landlord or mythology. Do we avoid by any means guilt which is a twinge of conscience..do we cover it up with excuses, dismissals, and shopping malls

POPE FRANCIS

Unlike poor Lazarus, the rich man does not have a name; he is simply called “a rich man”. His opulence was seen in his extravagant and expensive robes. Purple cloth was even more precious than silver and gold… The man was clearly ostentatious about his wealth, and in the habit of displaying it daily: “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

MY REFLECTION

The Apostle Paul in his letter to Timothy says, “money is the root of all evil” (1 Tim 6:10). How do I look upon money and possessions,  do I have more than I need,  does money influence my actions, dealings with others, is money more than to provide for my family and to serve others, has love of money made me dishonest,  envious of others, suspicious of others…condemn others who have wealth and possessions…

POPE FRANCIS

The parable shows that the rich man’s greed makes him vain…. But his appearance masks an interior emptiness. His life is a prisoner to outward appearances.  The rich man dresses like a king and acts like a god, forgetting that he is merely mortal… The result of attachment to money is a sort of blindness.  The rich man does not see the poor man who is starving, hurting, lying at his door.

Looking at this character, we can understand why the Gospel so bluntly condemns the love of money: “No one can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or be attached to the first and despise the second.

MY REFLECTION

You cannot be the slave both of God and of money” (Mt 6:24).what am I a slave to…where is my treasure…what is my treasure

POPE FRANCIS

The liturgy of Ash Wednesday invites us to an experience quite similar to that of the rich man. When the priest imposes the ashes on our heads, he repeats the words: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return”. As it turned out, the rich man and the poor man both died, and the greater part of the parable takes place in the afterlife. The two characters suddenly discover that “we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it” (1 Tim 6:7).

MY REFLECTION

If you knew you were going to die tonight, what would you pack in your suitcase for your journey home…what would you like to remove from your suitcase…why wait…Jesus warns us to stay ready, wake up!  Therefore, stay awake,* for you know neither the day nor the hour. (Matthew 25:13)    

POPE FRANCIS       

…in the afterlife the rich man speaks at length with Abraham, whom he calls “father” (Lk 16:24.27), as a sign that he belongs to God’s people. This detail makes his life appear all the more contradictory, for until this moment there had been no mention of his relation to God. In fact, there was no place for God in his life. His only god was himself.

MY REFLECTION

Is that rich man’s behavior any part of me…do I just go about my worldly pursuits rarely acknowledging or pursuing a relationship with God…basically a stranger to God…holding on to that delusion that I can call out God’s name at that last moment, at that meeting in the afterlife, say I am one of your sons or daughters too…cry out Lord, Lord…well, Jesus has a response for that kind of thinking, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven,* but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you…. Depart from me, you evildoers.“(Matthew 7:21

POPE FRANCIS

The rich man recognizes Lazarus only amid the torments of the afterlife. He wants the poor man to alleviate his suffering with a drop of water. What he asks of Lazarus is similar to what he could have done but never did. Abraham tells him: “During your life you had your fill of good things, just as Lazarus had his fill of bad. Now he is being comforted here while you are in agony” (v. 25). In the afterlife, a kind of fairness is restored and life’s evils are balanced by good.

The rich man asks Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his brothers, who are still alive.  But Abraham answers: “They have Moses and the prophets, let them listen to them” (v. 29). Countering the rich man’s objections, he adds: “If they will not listen either to Moses or to the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone should rise from the dead” (v. 31).

MY REFLECTION

WOW!  That really sticks it to us today…we have the privilege of the entire salvation story laid out in Scripture….the Son of God coming to us while still sinners… through His passion and death liberating us from sin and death…He rose from the dead to show us what He promised is true…how many still ignore the message…ignore the plea to love God with all our mind, all our heart, all our soul, and all our strength and love our neighbor because whatever we do to our neighbor we do to Jesus!

POPE FRANCIS

At the root of the rich man’s ills was the failure to heed God’s word. As a result, he no longer loved God and grew to despise his neighbor. 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

Dear friends, Lent is the favorable season for renewing our encounter with Christ, living in his word, in the sacraments and in our neighbor. 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.  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.

Please visit stillromancatholicafteralltheseyears.com For past Posts, Have a holy and blessed Lent

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