Once again, in his daily homily, Pope Francis touches on a favorite theme and image: idols. (Are your ears burning, Elizabeth?)
“The one who trusts in himself, in his own richness or ideologies is destined for unhappiness. The one who trusts in the Lord, on the other hand, bears fruit even of time of drought.” That was the message of Pope Francis at Mass this morning in the chapel at Casa Santa Marta.
“Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings,” “the man who trusts in himself”: he will be “like a barren bush in the desert,” condemned by the drought to remain without fruit and to die. Pope Francis began with the day’s First Reading, which also says that the one who trusts in the Lord will be blessed: “He is like a tree planted beside the waters,” who in times of drought “still bears fruit.” Only in the Lord, Pope Francis said, is our sure confidence. Trusting in others is useless; such confidences “don’t save, they don’t give us life, they don’t give us joy.” And even if we know this, “we like to trust ourselves, to trust in that friend or trust in that situation I have, or in that ideology” and “the Lord remains on the side.” Such a person is closed in on himself, “without horizons, without open doors, without windows” and “will not have salvation, he cannot save himself.” That’s what happens to the rich man in the Gospel, the Pope explained. “He had it all, he dressed in purple, he ate all day, great banquets.” He was so content, but he didn’t notice that there was a poor man “at his door . . . covered with sores.” The Pope said the Gospel gives the name of the poor man — he was called Lazarus — while the rich man has no name:
“This is the worst misfortune of those who trust in themselves or in [their own]strength; in the possibilities of men and not in God: they lose [their] name. What is your name? The amount in your account, in your bank. . . . What is your name? So many properties, so many villas, so many. . . . What is your name? The things we have, the idols. And you trust in that, and this man is cursed.”“We all have this weakness, this fragility,” the Pope said, “ of putting our hopes in ourselves or in friends or in human possibilities alone, and we forget the Lord. And that takes us along the path . . . of unhappiness.”
“Today, in this day of Lent, we would do well to ask ourselves: where is my confidence? In the Lord? Or am I a pagan, who confides in things, in the idols that I have made? Do I still have a name or have I begun to lose my name and [begun] to call myself ‘I’? I, me, with me, for me, only ‘I’? For me, for me . . . always that self-centredness: ‘I.’ This will not give us salvation.”
But, “in the end,” the Pope said, “there is a door of hope” for those who trust in themselves and “have lost [their] name”:
“To the end, to the end, to the end there is always a possibility. And this man, when he realized that he had lost his name, he had lost everything, everything, looks up and says one word: ‘Father.’ And God’s answer is one word: ‘Son!’ If one of us in life, having so much trust in man and in ourselves, we end up losing the name, losing this dignity, there is still a chance to say this word that is more than magic, it is more, it is strong: ‘Father.’ He always waits for us to open a door that we do not see and says to us: ‘Son.’
Let us ask the Lord for the grace that He would give to each of us the wisdom to have confidence only in Him — not in things, not in human powers; only in Him.”