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For Lent, Give Up Hypocrisy, Pope Says

Pope Francis prays as he leads a Lenten penance service in early March in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Stefano Rellandini, Reuters)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Lent is a time to ask for God’s grace to chip away at hypocrisy, which is seen in the natural human attempt to appear “worthier than we are,” Pope Francis said March 8 during his early Morning Mass.

“I must appear to be what I am, and that is our work in Lent,” the pope said.

Pope Francis’ homily focused on the beginning of Isaiah 58. In the passage, the Lord scolds his people for boasting about their fasting while they take advantage of others and quarrel endlessly. The reading says that what the Lord wants instead is for the people to free the oppressed, feed the hungry, house the homeless and cloth the naked.

The corporal works of mercy are the kind of fasting God wants most, the pope said: “When you share your bread with someone who is hungry, invite into your home someone who doesn’t have one or is a migrant, when you look for clothing for someone who is without – when you focus on that, you are truly fasting.”

Too often, he said, people feel they are righteous because they belong to some association that does good or because they go to Mass every Sunday and are not like “those poor things who don’t understand anything.”

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