The Pope’s message

Lent is coming up and you know what that means, half of the Xavier population will attempt for the third year in a row to give up sugar. But this Lent instead of abstaining from something as trivial as sugar, heed the words of Pope Francis’s 2017 Lenten message. According to Pope Francis, “Lent is the favorable season for renewing our encounter with Christ, living in his word, in the sacraments and in our neighbor.” His message is divided into three sections, “The Other Person Is a Gift”,  “Sin Blinds Us”, and “The Word Is a Gift”.

The message begins with the introduction of the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Lk 16:19-31). What Lazarus teaches us is that when we recognize the value in other persons, we understand that other people are gifts that we need to open our hearts to because “Lent is a favorable season for opening the doors to all those in need and recognizing in them the face of Christ” (Pope Francis).

Pope Francis’s next point about sin blinding us, “the rich man does not see the poor man who is starving, hurting, lying at his door” because his attachment to money blinds from the lives of anyone other than his own. Lastly, the section entitled, “The Word is a gift”, focuses on the end of the parable when both the poor and rich man have died and are now in the afterlife and they both discover, “we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.”  This correlates to the words the priest says during Ash Wednesday mass while he imposes ashes on our heads, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

Pope Francis, “[encourages] 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 to our one human family.” Junior Tatiana Rosales describes Lent as “the most important event we celebrate during the year. I love that we follow those 40 days to help renew ourselves and to prepare us for Easter. I have been brought up to follow those 40 days religiously and I really like that I can count on those days to refresh my faith and relationship with God.”

So this Lent be mindful of the Pope Francis’s message, don’t merely give something up, don’t simply fast, instead, open your heart to your neighbor, recognize that other people are gifts, do not allow your sins to blind you, and hear The Word as a gift.