Pope Benedict taught on Sunday that providing for the poor of the world takes precedence over providing for one's own comfort. Their "eternal destiny," he said, depends on the conduct of all people and it is in everyone's hands to make the decision to live a "path of love," in service and charity to others.
Meeting with the faithful and pilgrims at Castel Gandolfo for the last time this year before his return to Rome next Friday, the Holy Father looked rested as he spoke of Sunday's Gospel and saintly examples of charity. He based his catechesis on Sunday's Gospel from Luke in which the poor man, Lazarus, is taken up to heaven by the angels while the rich man at whose door he begged finds himself in hell.
The parable's message "goes beyond" Christ's words "Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours," taught the Pope.
He said to "remember that, while we are in this world, we must listen to the Lord who speaks to us through the Sacred Scriptures and live according to His will, otherwise, after death, it will be too late to mend our ways."
The parable teaches us two things, Benedict XVI explained, "that God loves the poor and lifts them up from their humiliation" and "that their eternal destiny is conditioned by our conduct. It is up to us to follow the path that God has shown us to reach life, and this path is love, not understood as a feeling, but as service to others, in the charity of Christ."
He phrased Sunday's catechetical message succinctly in his English-language greeting, calling the story of Lazarus "a warning to have a special care for the poor in all circumstances. As followers of our blessed Lord," he insisted, "let us always look to other first, before we look to our own comfort."
Concluding, the Pope pointed to several saintly examples of charity. Recalling the "happy coincidence" of Monday's celebration of the Feast of the patron of Catholic charitable organizations, St. Vincent de Paul, and the 350th anniversary of his death, Pope Benedict said that this saint "touched with his own hand the strong contrast between the richest and the poorest."
He also remembered the influence of St. Louise of Marillac, with whom St. Vincent founded the "Daughters of Charity," the first women's congregation to live out their vocation outside of the convent and among the sick and needy of the world.
Referring to the context of "Christian coherence," Pope Benedict then spoke briefly of the life of recently beatified Blessed Chiara Badano, saying that she demonstrated that "only Love with a capital 'L' gives true happiness."
Before Benedict XVI prayed the Angelus, he praised God "because love is stronger than evil and death" and thanked Mary, who "leads young people, also through difficulties and suffering, to fall in love with Jesus and discover the beauty of life."