MANILA, Philippines – Rejecting hypocrisy, Pope Francis challenged Catholics to give up gossip as the Catholic Church begins the penitential season of Lent on Ash Wednesday, March 6.
Francis said in a homily on Sunday, March 3, that Catholics should reflect on the "temptation of gossip" as Lent begins, according to the Catholic News Service (CNS).
The Pope said one thing Catholics should ask themselves is, "Am I a hypocrite who smiles and then turns around to criticize and destroy with my tongue?"
"If, by the end of Lent, we are able to correct this a bit and not go around always criticizing others behind their backs, I assure you (the celebration of) Jesus' resurrection will be more beautiful," the Pope said in a homily in Rome, as quoted by CNS.
He also said Jesus "wants to teach us to not go around criticizing others, not go looking for others’ defects, but look first at your own."
"We are experts in finding the bad things in others and not seeing our own," said the Pope days before Lent.
Lent is a 40-day penitential season characterized by prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, leading to the remembrance of Christ's death on Good Friday and his resurrection on Easter. The season begins with Ash Wednesday, when Catholics have their foreheads marked with ashes to symbolize repentance from sin. (READ: Where do ashes for Ash Wednesday come from?)
In his own message on Ash Wednesday, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle urged Catholics to "leave behind unnecessary bags and baggages."
"It is difficult to travel with heavy bags and baggages. Like Jesus, let us travel light," Tagle said.
"Let us share what we have with the poor through acts of justice and charity called almsgiving. Let us take care of our health, our hungry neighbors, and creation by restraining our appetite through fasting. Let us cast on the Lord our burdens in the spirit of faith and hope through prayer," the cardinal added. – Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at email@example.com.