March 5, 2014
In the first Lenten message of his pontificate, Pope Francis asks us to reflect on a theme that motivates his deep spirituality, lived witness and prophetic teaching: the way of poverty.
He is inspired by the words of St. Paul: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9).
Jesus’ self-emptying shows us how to love authentically. For our sake, he became poor. Indeed, such poverty is a telling characteristic of love. Our own self-sacrifice, self-emptying, is necessary if we are to follow Jesus.
This Lent we can resolve to make great strides in going the way of poverty, through our participation in the Lenten practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving, as well as through our parishes’ special Lenten activities.
Humble prayer and purposeful fasting lead us to charitable works and concern for the well-being of another.
When we love as Jesus did, when we treat our neighbor as the Good Samaritan treated the man left half dead on the roadside, Christ’s poverty takes on our flesh and we experience a happiness that no fleeting pleasure can rival.
Each of us has desert demons that hinder our journey with Christ. We know them well: addictions, pride, jealousy, anger, selfishness, etc. We struggle to empty our lives of such sinfulness so as to make room for Christ and service of our neighbor.
Lent 2014 is a good time to reflect on my attitude towards others. For instance, am I pretty indifferent when it comes to concern for others? Is my philosophy of life: ‘I take care of my own and that’s enough’?
We recommit ourselves this Lent to seek holiness and grow in our love of Jesus expressed in our respect and concern for our neighbor.
A faith that is lived only internally, with no signs of it reflected in the witness of our lives, is a hollow, shallow faith.
I pray that the flame of faith be stirred in each of us these next forty days so that we might make room for the life that Easter promises.
Through the graces and spiritual strength we receive from our participation at Eucharist and other Lenten devotional practices, God clears our vision and opens our hearts to see and respond to the needs of those around us.
As a pilgrim people, seeking to follow Jesus, the Crucified and Risen One, we embrace this Lenten summons to strengthen our bond of self-emptying love and concern for our sisters and brothers.
Let us pray for each other this Lent and always!