As we approach the mid-way point in the Lenten season, Pope Francis is calling the faithful to use this time to “adjust your life” and to be careful not to become like hypocrites who act holy on the outside and “disguise themselves as good people.”
Vatican Radio is reporting on the pope’s March 18 homily in which he said “conversion” is the key work of Lent and encouraged all to use this time to get closer to the Lord.
Commenting on the First Reading, from the book of Isaiah, he said that the Lord calls two sinful cities like Sodom and Gomorrah to conversion. “This shows us that we all need to make a change of life, to take a good look into our soul where we always find something.”
This is the purpose of Lent – adjust our lives and draw closer to the Lord who wants to be closer to us.
However, the Lord wants “a sincere approach,” he said, and warns against becoming hypocrites:
“What makes people hypocrites? They disguise themselves . . . as good people: they make themselves up like little holy cards, looking up at heaven as they pray, making sure they are seen—they believe they are more righteous than others, they despise others. . . . (T)hey say, ‘I’m very Catholic, because my uncle was a great benefactor, my family is this, I’m that… I’ve learned… I know this bishop, this Cardinal, this priest… I am this or that…’ They think they are better than others. This is hypocrisy. The Lord says, ‘No, not that.’ No one is justified by himself. We all need to be justified. And the only one who justifies us is Jesus Christ.“
This is why it’s so important to approach the Lord in sincerity. “In order not to be Christians in disguise, so that when the appearance passes, one can see the reality that they are not Christians,” the pope said.
What is the sign that we are going along on a good path?
“‘Redress the wronged, hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow.’ Take care of the neighbor: the sick, the poor, the needy, the ignorant. This is the yardstick,” the pope said.
“The hypocrites do not know how to do this, they can’t, because they are so full of themselves that they are blind on account of watching others. When one walks a little bit and comes closer to the Lord, the light of the Lord makes him see these things and he goes to help the brothers. This is the sign, this is the sign of conversion.”
He concluded: “Lent is to adjust life, to fix life, to change life, to draw closer to the Lord. The sign that we are far from the Lord is hypocrisy. The hypocrite does not need the Lord, he is saved by himself — so he thinks — and he disguises himself as a saint. The sign that we are drawing closer to the Lord with repentance, asking for forgiveness, is that we care for the needy brethren.
“May the Lord give us all light and courage: light to know what’s happening within us, and courage to convert, to draw closer to the Lord. It is beautiful to be close to the Lord.”
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