|In these troubled times, the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph remains a model for all Christian families.
Once again, Lent is upon us, 40 days to convert ourselves (from the Latin convertere, to turn towards), to turn towards God and to leave the path of evil. To correct ourselves of our shortcomings and our evil inclinations, and to acquire the strength to resist temptations, the Church offers us three traditional means: prayer, fasting and alms. But for a true conversion, Lent must be more than that: We need to renounce ourselves, to renounce our selfishness, and to open ourselves to others, to their needs, to bring them happiness. One can read God’s words, in Isaiah (58; 6-7):
“Is this not the fast that I like, to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?”
To open ourselves to others, to those in need, throughout the world: This is what Pope Paul VI has reminded us in his encyclical Populorum Progressio on the development of nations, whose 50th Anniversary we celebrate this month. This is also what Pope Francis reminds us in his 2017 Lenten Message, which reminds us that our desire for money can prevent us from seeing the poor who stand before us, in need.
That which pleases God, says Isaiah, is to free those who are oppressed. Economic Democracy, or Social Credit, is a true message of liberation for the poor, for all nations upon earth who are oppressed by today’s banking system that creates money in the form of debts. Jesus said: “Truth will set you free.” (John; 8, 23) It is high time that people understand the trickery of the bankers who take possession of the nation’s credit and who create money out of nothing. And what is even better, learn how a honest money system should work.
Lent is a time to be connected to God, to be listening to God, to do God’s Will. A perfect example of one’s listening to God, of obedience to God, is that of Saint Joseph to whom God has entrusted Jesus and His Mother. During this month of March, consecrated to Saint Joseph, we do well to meditate on the life of this great saint, guardian of the Holy Family, of whom the Gospel says little except that he was a “just man” (Matthew; 1, 19.) Many saints and many Popes have written beautiful things on the greatness of Saint Joseph; allow us to quote Fr. Jean-Jacques Olier, founder of the Sulpicians:
“The admirable Saint Joseph was given to man to express the adorable perfections of God the Father... The Father, having chosen this saint as His image upon earth, we must therefore consider Saint Joseph to be the world’s greatest, best known, least understood...”
Nowadays, the family is more than ever under attack. Pope Francis shows us the recipe to having happy and united families: To begin with, prayer, above all, the Rosary recited by the whole family. And the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph remains a model for all Christian families.
Let us return to fasting for a moment. Leave your sad faces behind. Jesus tells us: “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I say unto you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face...” (Matthew 6:16-18.)
What draws people’s attention are people who are happy, people who smile. It was said of the early Christian comunities: “See how they love one another.” Nietzsche, the German philosopher, used to say: “I will believe in the Redeemer when the Christians look a little more redeemed.” In fact, people are more touched by the way we live than by what we say. In his exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, written in 1975, Pope Paul VI wrote: “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.” Therefore, let us be witnesses, with the look of someone who has been redeemed!