2017-03-14 12:29:00

Pope: Conversion - learning to do good with deeds, not words

(Vatican Radio) Avoiding evil, learning to do good, and allowing yourself to be carried forward by the Lord: this is the path of Lenten conversion pointed out by Pope Francis in his homily at the morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta. It is a conversion, the Pope said, that is manifested not with words, but with “concrete things.”

Listen to Christopher Wells' report: 

The Pope’s attempt to trace out the lines of Lenten conversion took its starting point from the words of the Prophet Isaiah from the day’s First Reading. Avoiding evil and learning to do good – the heart of Isaiah’s exhortation – are stages along this path. “Each one of us, every day, does something ugly.” The Bible, in fact, says that even “the most holy people sin seven times a day.”

Avoiding evil and learning to do good is a journey

The problem, the Pope said, lies in not getting into the habit of “living in ugly things” and avoiding those things that “poison the soul,” that make it small. And then we have to learn to do good:

“It’s not easy to do good: we must learn it, always. And He teaches us. But: Learn. Like children. Along the path of life, of the Christian life one learns every day. You have to learn every day to do something, to be better than the day before. To learn. Avoiding evil and learning to do good: this is the rule of conversion. Because being converted doesn’t come from a fairy who converts us with a magic wand: No! It’s a journey. It’s a journey of avoiding and of learning.”

You learn to do good with concrete actions, not with words

And so one needs courage, to learn to avoid evil; and humility to learn to do good, which is expressed in concrete actions:

“He, the Lord, names three concrete things, but there are many: seek justice, relieve the oppressed, give orphans justice, defend the cause of the widow… but concrete things. You learn to do good with concrete things, not with words. With deeds… For this reason Jesus, in the Gospel we have heard, rebukes this ruling class of the people of Israel, because ‘they talk and don’t act,’ they don’t know concreteness. And if there is no concreteness, there can be no conversion.”

Lift yourself up with the help of the Lord with humility, and we will be forgiven

The First Reading then continues with the invitation from the Lord: “Come [It: ‘su’ – arise], let us reason together.” “Arise” – a beautiful word, Pope Francis said, a word that Jesus addressed to the paralytics, to the daughter of Jairus, as well as to the son of the widow of Naim. And God gives us a hand to help us up. And He is humble, He lowers Himself so much to say, “Come, let us reason together.” Pope Francis emphasized how God helps us: “Walking together with us to help us, to explain things to us, to take us by the hand.” The Lord is able “to do this miracle” – that is, “to change us” – not overnight, but on a journey:

“An invitation to conversion, avoid evil, learn to do good… ‘Come, arise, come to me, let us reason together, and let us go forward.’ But [you might say] I have so many sins…’ ‘But don’t worry’ [God responds]. ‘If your sins should be like scarlet, they will become white as snow.’ And this is the path of Lenten conversion. Simple. It is the Father who speaks, it is the Father who loves us, who really loves us. And who accompanies us on this path of conversion. Only He asks us to be humble. Jesus says to the rulers: ‘He who exalts himself will be humble; and he who humbles himself will be exalted’.”

Francis concluded his homily by recalling the stages along the path of Lenten conversion: avoiding evil, learning to do good, getting up and going with Him. And then, he said, “our sins will all be forgiven.”

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