Consistent with his homilies, exhortations, letters and on-and-off-the-cuff remarks since his election to the papacy on March 13, 2013, Pope Francis has chosen to focus on generosity to the poor for his first message for Lent 2014. His necessarily global perspective, representing the Roman Catholic Church in the world, focuses on the poor as individuals, and poverty as a pandemic for us all, as citizens of the world, asking us all to do something about it, for all of us citizens of the world, wherever in the world we are.
His full scriptural focus comes from 2 Cor: 8-9, as St. Paul promotes generosity in giving, testing the genuineness of your love by your concern for others…because of faith.
For you know the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that for your sake he became poor although he was rich,
so that by his poverty you might become rich…
~2 Cor: 8:9
Regardless of our faith tradition or practice, at Saint Louis U we too focus on the poor, those in need, those who have less and need more than we, in numerous volunteer, service and academic works, on and off campus, perhaps even particularly here in St. Louis. What more, we might ask--and answer--can we do, as individuals, as a University community? Can we look at the people and the issues with new eyes?
As we prepare to enter Lent, we too can give special attention to the poor--abroad, here at home, on campus-- with prayer, with preparation, with our deeds. As we continue to do well, can we also strive to do good with those we know, and will meet, as our brothers and sisters?
I recommend the Pope’s Lenten Message for your consideration, and I encourage you to refer to the Campus Ministry Lenten Reflections, among other resources, for your own preparation and practice during this season.
Have a good and blessed and productive Lent.
~P. Stark, SJ Vice President for Mission and Ministry