Pope Francis’s Message for Lent is not a spiritual reflection on preparing for Easter, but a prophetic call to recognize that the fact that millions of our brothers and sisters are locked in poverty, stripped of their human dignity and live without hope is an unacceptable difference that cannot be ignored or tolerated. The message might well have been titled What’s the Difference because it expands on his previous criticism of global indifference and apathy.
“Usually,” the Pope observes, “when we are healthy and comfortable, we forget about others (something God the Father never does). We are unconcerned with their problems, their sufferings and the injustices they endure.” He notes that, “Today this selfish attitude of indifference has taken on global proportions, to the extent that we can now speak of a globalization of indifference.”
A “whatever” attitude of disinterest or acceptance of such poverty as inevitable is not acceptable. “Indifference to our neighbor and to God. …. represents a real temptation for us Christians,” the Holy Father continues, ” a problem which we, as Christians need to confront.” We must not “become indifferent and withdraw into ourselves.”
“Christians,” Pope Francis emphasizes “are those who let God clothe them with goodness and mercy, with Christ, so as to become like Christ, servants of God and others.” God’s love breaks that fatal withdrawal into ourselves which is indifference. “God is not indifferent to our world.”
St. Paul reminds us as the Body of Christ, “If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it.” (1 Cor.12:26) It is the same with humanity for, in the words of John Donne, “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”
“In the Body of Christ,” the Holy Father reminds us, “there is no room for the indifference which so often seems to possess our hearts. For whoever is of Christ, belongs to one body, and in him we cannot be indifferent to one another.”
In my next blog I will write more on the Pope’s Lenten message in which he sets out a plan for parishes.
Image Credit: Pope Francis smiles as he leaves his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Feb. 11. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
This post is also available in/Esta entrada también está disponible en: Spanish