(Source: Vatican News)
“We pray for those who govern, who must make decisions regarding the measures” to be taken to contain the Covid-19 coronavirus. May they “feel accompanied by the prayer of the people”, Pope Francis said at the beginning of the sacred liturgy he celebrated on Thursday at Casa Santa Marta.
“Many times they make decisions that people don’t like but it’s for our good”.
The Pope then turned to the Gospel of the day from the Gospel of Luke (16:19-31) during his homily.
The rich man
Pope Francis described the rich man in Jesus’ parable as someone who was satisfied, happy, without any concerns. His clothes were probably made by the best fashion designers of his day. He may have had to take medication for high cholesterol due to the banquets he gave every day. His life was going along quite well.
The rich man knew that a poor man lived at his door step. He even knew his name was Lazarus. The problem is that Lazarus “didn’t matter”. He thought it was normal and that Lazarus would take care of himself. Both men died.
“The Gospel says that Lazarus ‘was taken to heaven with Abraham, to the bosom of Abraham’. Regarding the rich man, it says he ‘was buried’. Period.”
The great abyss
Pope Francis was impressed by the “great abyss” between the two.
“‘Between us there is a great abyss. We can’t communicate. We can’t go from one side to the other’. It was the same abyss that had existed between the rich man and Lazarus while they were alive.”
The drama of indifference
Pope Francis described the rich man’s drama as being “very much informed”. That information, the Pope said, “never penetrated his heart. He wasn’t moved by the drama that others were living”. This is our drama too, he said.
“We all know because we’ve heard it on the television or we’ve read it in the newspapers: How many children suffer hunger today in the world, how many children don’t have the necessary medicines, how many children can’t go to school. We say, ‘poor things’ and continue on.… We know these things exist, but it doesn’t penetrate our heart.”
The drama is that we are well-informed but that we do not “feel the reality” that others live.
“This is the abyss, the abyss of indifference”, Pope Francis said. This indifference robs us even of our name, as in the case of the rich man, whose name we don’t know.
It is egoism, the Pope said, that “makes us lose our real identity, our name”. This leads to a “culture of adjectives where your value is in what you have”.
“Indifference brings us to the point of losing our name…. We are this or that. We are adjectives.”
Pope Francis concluded with the prayer:
“We ask the Lord today for the grace of not falling into indifference. The grace that all the information we have about human suffering might penetrate our hearts and move us to do something for others.”
Pope donates 100,000 euros to Italian Caritas
In the meantime, Italy continues to be the country with the highest number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Europe.
On Wednesday, the Italian government further tightened restrictions by ordering the closure of all shops, except pharmacies and food stores.
In this atmosphere of growing concern, Pope Francis has sent a contribution of 100,000 euros to Italian Caritas.
He made the donation through the Dicastery for Integral Human Development whose mission is, among other things, to promote solidarity with those who are most vulnerable.
The Holy Father’s spiritual closeness
On Wednesday, the Dicastery issued a statement explaining how the gift is an expression of the Holy Father’s “spiritual closeness and paternal encouragement to people suffering from the current epidemic, and to all those caring for them”.
The money is meant to assist Italian Caritas in providing essential services in favour of the poor and most vulnerable members of society.
Diocesan and parish Caritas centres in Italy run soup kitchens, homeless shelters, dormitories, and more.
Italian Caritas, along with the Sant’Egidio Community, have both launched appeals not to abandon the poor and those who are at risk, especially at this time.
Echoing the words of Pope Francis, they are calling for “far reaching” support that includes the psychological and spiritual dimension, aside from material and economic help.
The latest on Novena on the coronavirus emergency:
11/3: Following footsteps of Pius XII against Nazis, Rome Church, Pope implore divine aid against coronavirus
11/3: Vatican urges “international solidarity” in coronavirus fight, decries “stigmatisation” of victims
General Audience behind closed doors 11/3: Pope pleads for coronavirus “epidemic” not to obscure plight of “poor Syrians” on Greek-Turkish border
10/3: Pope sends “caress” to Italian communities hit by virus outbreak as Vatican shuts down St. Peter’s Square and Basilica
Santa Marta Mass 10/3: Pope asks priests for “courage” to visit, accompany, bring Eucharist to coronavirus ill
9/3: Vatican Cardinal praises “care for every life” in coronavirus response; Italian Bishops cancel public Masses until April
9/3: Pope offers first live Santa Marta Mass for coronavirus sick, caregivers as Vatican ups preventative measures
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