VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Loudly boasting or complaining about fasting during Lent and treating others unkindly is not what God wants, Pope Francis said.
“Does my fasting end up helping others? If it doesn’t, it’s fake, it’s contradictory and it leads to the path of a double life. I pretend to be Christian — righteous like the Pharisees, the Sadducees — but inside I am not,” he said in his homily Feb. 16 at morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae.
The pope preached on the day’s first reading, taken from the prophet Isaiah, which condemned the false ways the faithful were fasting on a day of penance and the ways that are “acceptable to the Lord.”
Catholics who fast and boast aloud about their penitential acts are engaged in deception and are “rigging” true virtue, he said.
The only cover-up people should commit is covering their face with a genuine smile so others are unaware they are fasting and doing penance, he said.
Whether people can fast completely or not, he said, what matters is being humble, joyous and sincerely helping others.
True Lenten fasting calls people to reflect on their sins, feel shame and beg for God’s forgiveness, he added.
Think about every sin, even the ones that would cause embarrassment if they ended up revealed in the news, the pope suggested. “Yes, be ashamed.”
Finally, he said, what is needed is to reflect on and remedy one’s behavior and one’s treatment of others, particularly of those who are in need.
In the day’s reading, God asks people to set free the oppressed, shelter them and share with the hungry and homeless, the pope said.
This includes treating everyone in one’s life — housekeepers, employees, assistants — with respect.
“How do you treat them? Like people or like slaves? Do you pay them fairly? Give them vacation?” he asked.
Pope Francis said people should pray for the grace to be consistent in what they believe and do, and to live Lent with “feeling a bit of hunger” and lots of prayer.
Help us keep you informed -- CatholicPhilly.com can't do it without youDuring CatholicPhilly.com's fall donation campaign, you have a way to help us deliver the kind of news you need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live. Every household's costs keep rising, and we're no different. We make sure your dollars in any amount go a long way toward continuing our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month. Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can -- a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Or by credit card here: