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Pope Francis During Mass in Santa Marta

Pope Francis During Mass in Santa Marta © L'OSSERVATORE ROMANO

‘If You Close in on Yourself, You’ll Be Nameless,’ Warns Pope

During Mass at Santa Marta, Calls on Faithful to Open Hearts, Selves to Joy

We cannot let our hearts be closed, nor focus only on that which affects our personal world.

During his daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis stressed this, noting we are called to welcome love and mercy into our hearts, especially that which the Lord longs to give us, and to show our love to others, reported Vatican Radio.

In his homily, the Pope reminded those present that we are in Lent and we should ask ourselves on what path we are traveling.

“‘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.”

The Pontiff noted that this involves helping the poor, through whom Jesus channels us.

‘Religiosity’ doesn’t count

Francis drew inspiration from today’s Gospel in which 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 notice that at his door was the poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores.

The Holy Father said this exhorts us to ask ourselves: “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”

“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,” Francis said.

For example, the Pope noted, this man didn’t think of the needs of so many people, or of the necessity of accompanying the sick, rather “he thought only of himself, of his wealth, of his good life: he was given to the good life.”

The rich man, Francis explained, had the appearance of being religious, but did not know the “peripheries,” for “he was completely ‘closed in on himself.’”

“It is precisely the “peripheries” on his very doorstep that he could not see,” he said.

Don’t be closed in on self

Because he only “trusted in himself” and “in his things,” rather than trust in God, Francis said the man took “the way of falsehood.

He was a man who wasn’t able to properly receive his inheritance, or live his life, because “he was closed in on himself.”

“It is curious,” the Pope pointed out, “that 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 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.”

About Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is a Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in four languages). She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, at times from the papal flight, and has done television and radio commentary, including for Vatican Radio and BBC. She is a contributor to National Catholic Register, UK Catholic Herald, Our Sunday Visitor, Inside the Vatican, and other Catholic news outlets. She has also collaborated with the Vatican in various projects, including an internship at the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and is a collaborator with NBC Universal, NBC News, Euronews, EWTN and Salt & Light. For 'The Other Francis': https://www.amazon.com/Other-Francis-Everything-They-about/dp/0852449348/

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