Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 11, 2002
Give as you have received, says pope
Dedicate yourself to brothers, sisters, says his Lenten message
By MARK PATTISON
Catholic News Service
Pope John Paul urged Catholics to a "gratuitousness" in their service and charity to others this Lent.
"In the very love which God has for us, there lies the call to give ourselves freely to others in turn," the pope said in his annual Lenten message.
For Latin-rite Catholics, Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, which is Feb. 13 this year.
The theme of the pope's message is Freely You Have Received, Freely Give.
"'What do you have,' St. Paul asks, 'that you did not receive?'" the pope said, quoting from 1 Corinthians.
"The demand which follows this recognition is that of loving our brothers and sisters, and of dedicating ourselves to them. The more needy they are, the more urgent the believer's duty to serve them."
Pope John Paul added, "As believers, we must be open to a life marked by 'gratuitousness,' by the giving of ourselves unreservedly to God and neighbour."
He said, "The world prizes human relationships based on self-interest and personal gain, and this fosters an egocentric vision of life, in which too often there is no room for the poor and weak.
"Every person, even the least gifted, must be welcomed and loved for themselves, regardless of their qualities and defects."
"It is highly significant that Jesus spoke the words 'You received without paying, give without pay' as he sent the Apostles out to spread the Gospel of salvation, which is his first and foremost gift to humanity.
"Christ wants his kingdom, which is already close at hand, to be spread through gestures of gratuitous love accomplished by his disciples."
He added, "In our own day too the good done by believers becomes a sign, and often an invitation to believe.
"When, like the Good Samaritan, Christians respond to the needs of their neighbour, theirs is never merely material assistance. It is always a proclamation of the kingdom as well, and speaks of the full meaning of life, hope and love."
Lent, Pope John Paul said, is "a return to the roots of our faith, so that by pondering the measureless gift of grace which is redemption, we cannot fail to realize that all has been given to us by God's loving initiative."
He said, "May Lent, recalling the mystery of the Lord's death and resurrection, lead all Christians to marvel in their heart of hearts at the greatness of such a gift.
"Yes! We have received without pay. Is not our entire life marked by God's kindness? The beginning of life and its marvellous development: This is a gift."
Because it is a gift, the pope said, "life can never be regarded as a possession or as private property, even if the capabilities we now have to improve the quality of life can lead us to think that man is the 'master' of life."