A Word from Pope Francis
In our imagination, salvation must come from something great, from something majestic: only the powerful can save us, those who have strength, who have money, who have power, these people can save us. Instead, God’s plan is different. Thus, they feel disdain because they cannot understand that salvation comes only from little things, from the simplicity of the things of God. When Jesus proposes the way of salvation, he never speaks of great things, but only little things. The little thing is represented by bathing in the Jordan and by the little village of Nazareth. Disdain is a luxury that only the vain, the proud allow themselves.
Taking the Word to Heart
Read: 2 Kings 5:1–15a; Luke 4:24–30
Every day people begin extreme diets because they simply can’t believe that losing weight is simply a matter of burning more calories than they consume. Exotic dietary supplements and steroids in sports fuel the belief in a magic formula to ensure victory when hard work and training isn’t enough. Ads for new pharmaceuticals herald the next cure for whatever disease is holding us back. We overlook the simple, everyday ways to better health and wellbeing because they don’t make any remarkable claims to instant results.
Our technology and communication methods might be twentyﬁrst century, but the impulse to seek a spectacular, magic solution to the common plight of humanity is as old as our Scripture readings today. Naaman seeks healing, but he’s also hoping for a great spectacle from the famed man of God. The people in Jesus’s hometown are hoping that he will wow them with the wonders they’ve heard he performed in other towns. But he disappoints their expectations and they fail to see the wonder that he is.
The virtue of humility reminds us that the ordinary and the everyday is often where God’s gifts shine most brightly. The quiet person we overlook in a meeting might have the solution to a vexing work issue. The chicken soup your grandma made when you had a cold really does have healing properties. The friend who listens patiently while you work out a difﬁcult time in a relationship isn’t giving you advice about a quick ﬁx, but the solution you discover in the process has long-lasting effects.
Bringing the Word to Life
Lent is a ﬁne time to examine our attitudes toward everyone in our lives. Take time to acknowledge some contribution by someone you have previously overlooked or dismissed as insigniﬁcant and unworthy of recognition.
Pope Francis Prays
Lord, give us the grace
to understand that the only way to salvation
is the folly of the Cross,
the annihilation of the Son of God,
of his becoming small.
This article, from the American Franciscan, gives evidence of Pope Francis’ accent on the need for poverty and simplicity in our everyday lives. Lent may be a time, for instance, of refraining from our too-ready criticism of other people’s piety (or seeming lack of it) and to concentrate, instead, on our own human weaknesses. This fasting from criticism, especially in a time of every ready communication on the Internet, may be a real test of our willingness to be still and commune with the Author and Finisher of our Faith. Pope Francis is a great example of a simplicity of lifestyle, and charitable witness to the power of Christ at work in our redemption.
I, myself, am not too good at this internal discipline and must make a greater effort, this Lent, to remember the great sacrifice God has made in Jesus Christ to effect my own salvation.
Jesu, Mercy; Mary, Pray!
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand