The following is a translation of the Message that Pope Francis sent to the Brazilian faithful, on the occasion of the 52nd Lenten Brotherhood Campaign, promoted by the Episcopal Conference of Brazil, whose theme this year is: “Brotherhood: Church and Society,” with the slogan “I Came to Serve” (Mark 10:45).
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Dear Brothers and Sisters of Brazil!
Lent is approaching, a time of preparation for Easter: time of penance, prayer and charity, time to renew our life, identifying ourselves with Jesus through His generous donation to brothers, especially the neediest. This year the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil, inspired by his words ”The Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45) proposes as theme of its traditional campaign “Brotherhood: Church and Society.”
In fact, the Church in as much as “community constituted by those that believe and direct their gaze to Jesus, author of salvation and principle of unity, (Constitution Lumen gentium, 3), cannot be indifferent to the needs of those around her, because “the joys and hopes, the sadness and the anguishes of the men of today, especially of the poor and of all those who suffer, are also the joys and hopes, the sadness and anguishes of the disciples of Christ” (Constitution Gaudium et spes, 1). But, what can we do about it? During the forty days in which God calls his people to conversion, the Brotherhood Campaign intends to help and deepen, in the light of the Gospel, the dialogue and collaboration between the Church and Society – proposed by Vatican Council II – as service to the building of the Kingdom of God in the heart and life of the Brazilian people.
The contribution of the Church, in respect to the lay State (Cf. Ibid., 76) and without forgetting the autonomy of the earthly realities (Cf. Ibid., 36), finds concrete form in her Social Doctrine, with which she wishes “to assume evangelically and from the perspective of the Kingdom priority tasks that contribute to the dignifying of the human being and to work together with the other citizens and institutions for the good of the human being” (Aparecida Document, 384). This is not an exclusive task of institutions: every one must do his part, beginning from my home, in my work, with persons with whom I relate. And, concretely, we must help the poorest and the neediest. We must remember that “every Christian and every community is called to be an instrument of God for the liberation and the promotion of the poor, so that they can be fully integrated in the society. This implies that we are docile and attentive to listen to the cry of the poor and to help them” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, 187), especially by being able to be hospitable, “because when we are generous in receiving a person and share something with him – some food, a place in our home, our time – not only do we not remain poorer but we are enriched” (Address to the Community of Varginha, 25/07/2013). So we make an examination of conscience on the concrete and effective commitment of each one of us in the building of a more just, fraternal and peaceful society.
Dear brothers and sisters, when Jesus says to us: “I came to serve” (Mark 10:45), he teaches us the synthesis of the Christian’s identity: to love by serving. Therefore, I hope that this year’s Lenten journey, in the light of the proposals of the Brotherhood Campaign, will predispose hearts to the new life offered to us by Christ, and that the transforming strength that flows from his Resurrection reaches all in their personal, family, social and cultural dimensions and reinforces in every heart sentiments of brotherhood, and earnest collaboration. Through the intercession of Our Lady of Aparecida, I send to each and all of you my heartfelt Apostolic Blessing, asking that you never stop praying for me.
Vatican, February 2, 2015