Editor’s Note: The following quotes are excerpts from Pope Francis’ 2014 Lenten Message. In it, he talks about how the poverty that Christ embraced by becoming man reveals His immense love for us… a love that is the antidote to all of the poverty and destitution of the world, so long as we share His love with everyone. Our hope is that you’re inspired by these words of his to embark on your Lenten journey with a renewed passion for sharing the Gospel message and for drawing ever closer to God.
- Christ, the eternal Son of God, one with the Father in power and glory, chose to be poor; He came amongst us and drew near to each of us; He set aside His glory and emptied himself so that He could be like us in all things (cf. Phil2:7; Heb 4:15). God’s becoming man is a great mystery! But the reason for all this is His love, a love which is grace, generosity, a desire to draw near, a love which does not hesitate to offer itself in sacrifice for the beloved. Charity, love, is sharing with the one we love in all things. Love makes us similar, it creates equality, it breaks down walls and eliminates distances. God did this with us. Indeed, Jesus “worked with human hands, thought with a human mind, acted by human choice and loved with a human heart. Born of the Virgin Mary, He truly became one of us, like us in all things except sin.” (Gaudium et Spes, 22).
- God did not let our salvation drop down from heaven, like someone who gives alms from their abundance out of a sense of altruism and piety. Christ’s love is different! When Jesus stepped into the waters of the Jordan and was baptized by John the Baptist, He did so not because He was in need of repentance, or conversion; He did it to be among people who need forgiveness, among us sinners, and to take upon Himself the burden of our sins. In this way He chose to comfort us, to save us, to free us from our misery.
- What gives us true freedom, true salvation and true happiness is the compassion, tenderness and solidarity of His love. Christ’s poverty which enriches us is His taking flesh and bearing our weaknesses and sins as an expression of God’s infinite mercy to us.
- It has been said that the only real regret lies in not being a saint (L. Bloy); we could also say that there is only one real kind of poverty: not living as children of God and brothers and sisters of Christ.
- In every time and place God continues to save mankind and the world through the poverty of Christ, who makes Himself poor in the sacraments, in His word and in His Church, which is a people of the poor.
- In imitation of our Master, we Christians are called to confront the poverty of our brothers and sisters, to touch it, to make it our own and to take practical steps to alleviate it.
- If we think we don’t need God who reaches out to us through Christ, because we believe we can make do on our own, we are headed for a fall. God alone can truly save and free us.
- The Gospel is the real antidote to spiritual destitution: wherever we go, we are called as Christians to proclaim the liberating news that forgiveness for sins committed is possible, that God is greater than our sinfulness, that He freely loves us at all times and that we were made for communion and eternal life.
- Lent is a fitting time for self-denial; we would do well to ask ourselves what we can give up in order to help and enrich others by our own poverty. Let us not forget that real poverty hurts: no self-denial is real without this dimension of penance. I distrust a charity that costs nothing and does not hurt.
- In expressing this hope, I likewise pray that each individual member of the faithful and every Church community will undertake a fruitful Lenten journey. I ask all of you to pray for me.
Click here to read the full text of Pope Francis’ Lenten Message.