VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Without making room for God’s word in their heart, people will never be able to welcome and love all human life, Pope Francis said.
“Each life that we encounter is a gift deserving acceptance, respect and love,” the pope said in his message for Lent, which begins March 1 for Latin-rite Catholics.
“The word of God helps us to open our eyes to welcome and love life, especially when it is weak and vulnerable,” he wrote.
Released by the Vatican Feb. 7, the text of the pope’s Lenten message — titled “The Word is a gift. Other persons are gift” — focused on the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in the Gospel of St. 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.”
In the Gospel account, Lazarus and his suffering are described in great detail. While he is “practically invisible to the rich man,” the Gospel gives him a name and a face, upholding him as worthy, as “a gift, a priceless treasure, a human being whom God loves and cares for, despite his concrete condition as an outcast,” the pope wrote.