Sign up for the latest
updates from CRS.

Donate now to Catholic Relief Services

Pray with us. Light a Candle in CRS' Virtual Chapel.

Excerpts From the Pope's Lenten Message for 2010

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Each year, on the occasion of Lent, the Church invites us to a sincere review of our life in light of the teachings of the Gospel. This year, I would like to offer you some reflections on the great theme of justice, beginning from the Pauline affirmation: "The justice of God has been manifested through faith in Jesus Christ" (cf. Rom 3:21-22).…

Holy Trinity Church, Kariobangi parish, Kenya

Holy Trinity Church, the main church of Kariobangi parish, Kenya. Photo by Debbie DeVoe/CRS

What man needs most cannot be guaranteed to him by law. In order to live life to the full, something more intimate is necessary that can be granted only as a gift: we could say that man lives by that love which only God can communicate since He created the human person in His image and likeness. Material goods are certainly useful and required—indeed Jesus Himself was concerned to heal the sick, feed the crowds that followed Him and surely condemns the indifference that even today forces hundreds of millions into death through lack of food, water and medicine—yet "distributive" justice does not render to the human being the totality of his "due." Just as man needs bread, so does man have even more need of God.…

At the heart of the wisdom of Israel, we find a profound link between faith in God who "lifts the needy from the ash heap" (Ps 113:7) and justice towards one's neighbor. The Hebrew word itself that indicates the virtue of justice, sedaqah, expresses this well. Sedaqah, in fact, signifies on the one hand full acceptance of the will of the God of Israel; on the other hand, equity in relation to one's neighbor (cf. Ex 20:12-17), especially the poor, the stranger, the orphan and the widow (cf. Dt 10:18-19). But the two meanings are linked because giving to the poor for the Israelite is none other than restoring what is owed to God, who had pity on the misery of His people.…

God is attentive to the cry of the poor and in return asks to be listened to: He asks for justice towards the poor (cf. Sir 4:4-5, 8-9), the stranger (cf. Ex 22:20), the slave (cf. Dt 15:12-18). In order to enter into justice, it is thus necessary to leave that illusion of self-sufficiency, the profound state of closure, which is the very origin of injustice.…

Thanks to Christ's action, we may enter into the "greatest" justice, which is that of love (cf. Rom 13:8-10), the justice that recognizes itself in every case more a debtor than a creditor, because it has received more than could ever have been expected. Strengthened by this very experience, the Christian is moved to contribute to creating just societies, where all receive what is necessary to live according to the dignity proper to the human person and where justice is enlivened by love.

Dear brothers and sisters, Lent culminates in the Paschal Triduum, in which this year, too, we shall celebrate divine justice—the fullness of charity, gift, salvation. May this penitential season be for every Christian a time of authentic conversion and intense knowledge of the mystery of Christ, who came to fulfill every justice.

Read Pope Benedict's entire 2010 Lenten Message.

Share on Twitter


Code for Action: 101813 unsecurehomepage -->