by Carol Glatz
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Living locked up inside a “bubble of vanity” keeps people from seeing Christ, who is waiting on the outside, present especially in those who are poor, Pope Francis said in a morning homily.
Every person we run into who’s in need is Jesus, who is knocking on our heart, asking we step outside our ego and be generous, he said Feb. 25 during the Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae.
The pope asked that people pray to receive “the grace of always seeing every Lazarus who is at our door, all the Lazaruses who knock at our heart, to go outside ourselves with generosity, with an attitude of mercy so that God’s mercy may enter into our hearts,” he said.
The pope based his homily on the reading from the Gospel of Luke (16:19-31) about Jesus’ parable of the rich man who dressed elegantly and ate “sumptuously each day.” The rich man never took notice of the poor man, Lazarus, who lay at his door and would have gladly eaten just the scraps from the man’s table.
The pope said the rich man knew the Ten Commandments and he surely went to pray every Sabbath; he possessed a certain form of “religiosity” that was in name and appearance only.
“He was a man who was closed, closed up in his little world — a world of banquets, clothes, vanity, friends — a man closed up there in a bubble of vanity,” he said, according to Vatican Radio.
Being so self-absorbed, the man wasn’t able to look beyond himself and his interests. “He never thought, for example, about the needs of so many people or the need to accompany the sick. He only thought about himself, about his wealth, his good life.”
The rich man had chosen to follow “the path of lies” because he believed only in himself and not in God, the pope said.
He said it was “curious” how the rich man in the Gospel has no name — he’s only described by how rich he was.
When people are no longer referred to by their name, but are labeled instead by an adjective, “it is because you have lost. You’ve lost substance, you’ve lost strength.”
“This one is rich, that one is powerful, this one can do anything, this one is a priest” or bishop looking for advancement, he said, offering examples of some of the ways “we end up naming people with adjectives.”
But God has mercy, the pope said. God is at everyone’s door “in the person of Lazarus, who did have a name.”
“That Lazarus, with his needs and miseries and illnesses, he was really the Lord who knocked at the door so that this man would open his heart and mercy could enter. But, no. He didn’t see. He was just closed up. For him, there was nothing past that door.”
The pope said that, during Lent, people should ask themselves whether they are traveling along “the way of life” or “the path of lies. How many barricades do I still have in my heart? Where is my joy? In doing or talking?”
People should reflect on whether they find happiness “in going outside of myself to encounter others to help them” with works of mercy “or is my joy in having everything picture perfect, locked inside myself?”