“Each life that we encounter is a gift deserving acceptance, respect and love,” the Pope said in his message for Lent, released by the Vatican on Tuesday.
The message is entitled ‘The Word is a gift. Other persons are a gift’ and it focuses on the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in the Gospel of Saint Luke (16:19-31).
The parable calls for sincere conversion, the Pope said, and it “provides a key to understanding what we need to do in order to attain true happiness and eternal life.”
Pope Francis said the parable shows that “a right relationship with people consists in gratefully recognising their value” and that “even the poor person at the door of the rich is not a nuisance, but a summons to conversion and to change.”
Pope Francis went on to say that “Lent is a favourable season for opening the doors to all those in need and recognising in them the face of Christ. Each of us meets people like this every day.”
The Pope has also asked that Lent be a time “for renewing our encounter with Christ, living in his word, in the sacraments and in our neighbour.”
Concluding his message Pope Francis said, “May the Holy Spirit lead us on a true journey of conversion, so that we can rediscover the gift of God’s word, be purified of the sin that blinds us and serve Christ present in our brothers and sisters in need.” The Pope also encouraged the faithful to take part in the various Lenten campaigns promoted by local Church organisations.
His final words in this year’s Lenten message looked towards the joy of Easter, “Let us pray for one another so that, by sharing in the victory of Christ, we may open our doors to the weak and poor. Then we will be able to experience and share to the full the joy of Easter.”
Read the full text of the Pope’s Lenten Message here.