Pope’s Lenten message was written on 03 November 2011. A Precis.
“Let us be concerned for each other, to stir a response in love and good works” (Heb. 10: 24).
Three aspects of Christian life: (1) concern for others; (2) reciprocity; and (3) personal holiness.
(1) Responsibility towards our brothers and sisters.
To be concerned means to scrutinize, to be attentive, to observe carefully and take stock of something. “…think of the ravens” (Lk. 12: 24), “observe” the plank (Lk. 6: 41), “turn your minds to Jesus” (Heb. 3:1). To be concerned for each other, first look at Jesus, our model.
Love for others demands responsibility towards our brothers and sisters. Seeing other as our brothers and sisters will develop in us the spirit of solidarity, justice, mercy and compassion.
Fraternal correction is a responsibility.
Christ commands us to admonish a brother who is committing sin (cf. Mt. 18: 15).
Fraternal correction includes the prophetic mission of Christians to speak out against a generation indulging in evil (cf. Eph. 5: 11).
(2) The gift of reciprocity. St. Paul encourages us to seek “the ways which lead to peace and the ways in which we can support one another” (Rom. 14: 19). This mutual encouragement in a spirit of humility and charity must be part of the life of the Christian community.
We “are Christ’s body” (1 Cor. 12: 27). “…each part may be equally concerned for all the others. If one part is hurt, all parts are hurt with it. If one part is given honour, all parts enjoy it” (1 Cor. 12: 25-26).
This is communion: our existence is related to that of others, for better or for worse. Both our sins and our acts of love have a social dimension.
(3) “To stir a response in love and good works: walking together in holiness.”
Universal call to holiness. “Be ambitious for the higher gifts” (1 Cor. 12: 31)
The time granted us in this life is precious for discerning and performing good works in the love of God. In this way the Church herself continuously grows towards the full maturity of Christ (cf. Eph. 4: 13). Our exhortation to encourage one another to attain the fullness of love and good works is situated in this dynamic prospect of growth.
All have received spiritual or material riches meant to be used for the fulfillment of God’s plan, for the good of the Church and for our personal salvation (cf. Lk. 12: 21; 1 Tim 6: 18).
Those who do not advance inevitably regress. Let us aim for the “high standard of ordinary Christian Life”. (Novo Millennio Ineunte, 31).
“May all of us feel the urgent need to anticipate one another in charity, service and good works” (cf. Heb. 6:10).