The parable of the poor man, Lazarus, lying at the rich man’s door, was at the heart of Pope Francis’ homily at the Santa Marta Mass on Thursday morning.
The Pope warned of the risks we run if we have the same
uncaring attitude towards the poor and homeless people we see around us
Reflecting on the Gospel story of Lazarus, from St Luke’s Gospel,
Pope Francis warned against those who place their trust in things of the
Trusting in vanity, pride and riches, he said, will distance us
from the Lord. He highlighted the fruitfulness of those who trust in the
Lord and the sterility of those who rely only on themselves and the
things they can control.
Wealth can harden our hearts
When people live in a closed environment, surrounded by wealth and
vanity and trusting in their own devices, the Pope said, those people
lose their sense of direction and have no idea of their limitations.
Exactly as happens to the rich man in the Gospel, who spends his time at
dinner parties and takes no notice of the poor man lying at his door.
Crossing the line from sin to corruption
He knew who that poor man was, he even knew his name, but he just
didn’t care, the Pope said. Was he a sinner? Yes, he was, and though the
Lord forgives those who repent, this man’s heart was leading him on a
one-way road to death. There is a moment, Pope Francis stressed, a line
that we cross when sin turns into corruption.
This man was not simply a sinner but a corrupt person because he was
aware of all the suffering but he couldn’t care less. Damned are those
who place their hope in themselves, the Pope said, because there is
nothing more treacherous than a hardened heart. Once we are on that
road, he added, it’s very hard for our hearts to be healed.
How do we feel about child beggars?
What do we feel in our hearts when we see the homeless or the
children begging in the streets, Pope Francis asked? Do we say, ‘No,
those are the ones who steal? What do we feel for the poor or the
homeless, even if they are well dressed but they don’t have a job and
can’t pay the rent? Do we say this is normal? Do we see the homeless as
part of the landscape of our cities, like statues or bus stops or post
Are we touched by the plight of the poor?
We must be careful, the Pope warned, because if we eat, drink and
assuage our consciences by simply giving a coin and walking past, this
is not the right way to go. Instead, he said, we must realise when we
are on that slippery slope from sin to corruption.
We must ask
ourselves, what do I feel when I see on the news that a bomb has fallen
on a hospital and lots of poor children have been killed?
Do I just say a
prayer and go on my way like before? Is my heart touched, or am I like
the rich man whose heart was not touched by Lazarus but only the dogs
had pity on him? If that is the case, the Pope said, we are on the road
from sin to corruption.
May the Lord look into our hearts
For this reason, he concluded we must ask the Lord to look into our
hearts to see if we are on that slippery slope to corruption, from which
there is no return.
Sinners can repent and turn back, he said, but it
is very hard for those with closed and corrupt hearts, so let us pray
that the Lord will show us which road we are following.