In his homily at Casa Santa Marta today, Pope Francis reflected on the Lenten season, calling it a time “to adjust one’s life.”
The first reading from the prophet Isaiah calls to conversion the “princes of Sodom” and “the people of Gomorrah,” a calling, the Holy Father noted, that urges us to “change our lives” and to look after the “good of our souls.”
The Lord, he continued, is waiting for us to come close to him and forgive us. The Gospel, however, recalled Christ’s warning to not follow the example of hypocrites who do not practice what they preach.
“What do the hypocrites do? They wear masks, they put on the make-up of good [people]: they look holy, they pray looking towards heaven, making themselves be seen, they feel more righteous than others, they despise the others,” the Pope said.
“‘But – they say – I am very Catholic, because my uncle was a great benefactor, my family was and I […] know this bishop, that cardinal, this priest…I am…’ They think themselves better than others. This is hypocrisy. The Lord says: ‘No, not that’. No one is righteous by himself. We all have the need to be justified. And the only one who justifies us is Jesus Christ.”
The Pope called on the faithful to be close to the Lord in order to avoid becoming hypocrites. The way to do this, he said, is highlighted in the first reading.
“‘Redress the wronged, hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow.’ Care for your neighbour: the sick, the poor, those in need, those ignored. This is the touchstone. The hypocrites do not know how to do this, they can’t, because they are so full of themselves that they are blind to looking at others. When one walks a bit and comes close to the Lord, the light of the Lord makes them see these things and they go to help the brothers. This is the sign, this is the sign of conversion.”
Concluding his homily, the Holy Father encouraged those present to live the Lenten season as a time to change one’s life and come close to the Lord. Those who are far from the Him, he said, live in hypocrisy.
“The hypocrite has no need for the Lord, he is saved by himself, so he thinks, and disguises himself as a saint,” the Holy Father said. “The sign that we are close to the Lord is with penance, asking forgiveness, and that we take care of our brothers in need. May the Lord give us all light and courage: light to know what is going on within us and courage to convert, to come close to the Lord. It is beautiful to be close to the Lord.” (J.A.E.)