Pope Francis advises us not to close ourselves off in our own little world

June 3, 2016

In a good message for this election year in so many countries, Pope Francis advises us not to close ourselves off in our own little world.

True faith is found in this: to recognize the poor who are near to us. There is also where Jesus is found, knocking on the door of the heart. Therefore, Christians must be careful not to close themselves off in a separate world, in a “bubble” of banquets, clothing and vanity. Pope Francis stressed and emphasized this in early morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, as reported by Vatican Radio.

The Pontiff expounded his homily on today’s Gospel, in which Christ tells the parable of the rich man “who wore purple garments and fine linen, and gave lavish banquets every day” and who does not realize that at his door there was a poor man named Lazarus, covered in sores. Francis urges all to ask themselves this question: “Am I a Christian on the path of lies, of mere talk, or am I a Christian on the path of life, that is, of good works, of action?” Since this wealthy person “knew the commandments, surely went to synagogue every Saturday and once a year to the temple,” he has “a certain religiosity.”

But there is a caveat: “He was a closed man, closed off in his little world – the world of banquets, clothing, vanity, friends – a closed man, truly in a bubble of vanity. He did not have,” highlights Pope Bergoglio, “the ability to look beyond, he sees only his own world. And this man did not notice what was going on outside of his closed world. He did not think, for instance, of the needs of many people and the necessity of keeping the sick company, he only thought of himself, of his wealth, of his good life: he gave himself to the good life.” Selfishness and worldliness, then.

Francis defines him as a “feigned religious type” who “did not recognize any external periphery; everything was closed off within himself. Even that periphery, which was closest to the door of his home, he did not know.” On the contrary, he took the road “of lies,” trusting only “in himself, in his things, not in God.” The Pontiff adds he is “a man who has left no inheritance, who leaves behind him no life, because he was only closed in on himself.”

There is an important detail, for the Pope: “it is odd” that “he had lost his name. The Gospel does not say who he was, referring to him only as a rich man, and when your name is only an adjective it is because you have lost: you have lost substance, you have lost strength.”

Francis explains and actualizes his point: “This one is rich, this one is powerful, this one can do it all, this is a career priest, a career bishop … How often we … end up naming people with adjectives, not with names, because they have no substance.”

Jorge Mario Bergoglio then asks: “God who is Father, did He not have mercy on this man? Did he not knock at his heart to move him?” But yes, he was at the door, he was at the door, in the person of that Lazarus, who yes,” noted the Pope, “had a name.” And that Lazarus, with his needs and his miseries, his diseases, was the Lord who was knocking at the door, so that this man could open his heart and mercy could enter. But no, he did not see, for he was closed off: for him, beyond the door, there was nothing.”

Francis recalls that these are the days of Lent, and thus one should think like this: “Am I on the road of life or the road of lies? How many closed-off places do I still have in my heart? Where is my joy: in doing or in talking? In going outside of myself to reach out to others, to help? – The works of mercy, eh! Or is my joy in having everything settled, closed off within myself?”; and it is necessary to call upon God, “while we are thinking on this, in our life, that it is a grace to see every Lazarus who is at our door, every Lazarus who knocks on the heart, and to go outside of ourselves with generosity, with an attitude of mercy, so that – he concludes – the mercy of God may enter into our hearts!”

Cross-posted from La Stampa