Pope Francis: To truly live our faith, we must see the poor who are near to us

To truly live our faith, we must recognize the poor who are near to us. In them, Jesus himself knocks at the door of our heart: that was Pope Francis' message during the morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta on Thursday.

In the Gospel of the day, Jesus tells the parable of the rich man “who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day,” and who did not recognize that at his door there was a poor man named Lazarus, who was covered with sores. The pope invited us to ask ourselves the question: “Am I a Christian in name only, on the path of lies? Or am I a Christian on the path of life, that is, of works, of actions?” The rich man of the parable, he said, “knew the commandments, surely went every Saturday to the synagogue, and once a year to the Temple.” He had “a certain religiosity.”

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“But he was a closed man, closed in his own little world – the world of banquets, of clothes, of vanity, of friends – a closed man, truly in a bubble of vanity. He didn’t have the ability to see others, only his own world. And this man did not recognize the things that happened beyond his closed world. For example, he didn’t think of the needs of so many people, or of the necessity of accompanying of the sick; he though only of himself, of his wealth, of his good life: he was given to the good life.”

The rich man, then, had the appearance of being religious, but did not know the “peripheries,” he was completely “closed in on himself.” It is precisely the “peripheries” on his very doorstep that he could not see. He took the “way of falsehood,” because he “trusted only in himself, in his things – he did not trust in God.” He was a man who wasn’t able to properly receive his inheritance, or live his life, because “he was closed in on himself.” And, the pope said, “it is curious—the man had lost his name. It says only that he was a rich man, and when your name is only an adjective, it is because you have lost [something], you have lost substance, you have lost strength."

“This wealth, this is power, this can accomplish anything, this is a priest with a career, a bishop with a career… How many times [do] we [do this]?... It amounts to naming people with adjectives, not with names, because they have no substance. But I ask myself, ‘Did not God, who is a Father, have mercy on this man? Did He not knock on his heart to move him?” But yes, he was at the door, in the person of that man Lazarus, who had a name. And Lazarus, with his needs and his sorrows, his illnesses – it was the Lord Himself who was knocking at the door, so that this man would open his heart and mercy would be able to enter. But no, he did not see, he was simply closed: for him, outside the door there was nothing.”

We are in Lent, the pope noted, and it would do us good to ask ourselves what path we are travelling on:

“‘Am I on the road of life, or on the road of lies? How many ways is my heart still closed? Where is my joy: in doing, or in speaking? In going out of myself to meet others, to help them? The works of mercy, eh? Or is my joy in having everything organized, closed in on myself? Let us ask the Lord, while we’re thinking about it—no, throughout our life—for the grace of always seeing the Lazarus at our door, the Lazarus who knocks at our heart, and [the grace] to go out of ourselves with generosity, with the attitude of mercy, so that the mercy of God can enter into our hearts.”

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