The Pope’s Message for Lent 2012 is now available at the Vatican website. The document is just about 3,000 words long, with three numbered paragraphs. It is a reflection on the text of Hebrews 10:24, the passage which also provides the theme of the message.

Below is an outline of the Message, but before that we also supply the text (in the NAB translation as given in ICTUS 3) of Heb. 10:19-25, the immediate context of 10:24. I do this so that it would be easier to follow the exegetical premises of the Pope’s explanation of verse 24.

These words are part of a passage in which the sacred author exhorts us to trust in Jesus Christ as the High Priest who has won us forgiveness and opened up a pathway to God. Embracing Christ bears fruit in a life structured by the three theological virtues: it means approaching the Lord “sincere in heart and filled with faith” (v. 22), keeping firm “in the hope we profess” (v. 23) and ever mindful of living a life of “love and good works” (v. 24) together with our brothers and sisters. The author states that to sustain this life shaped by the Gospel it is important to participate in the liturgy and community prayer, mindful of the eschatological goal of full communion in God (v. 25).

The NAB Translation of Heb. 10:19-25

19Therefore, brothers,

since through the blood of Jesus
we have confidence of entrance into the sanctuary
20 by the new and living way he opened for us
through the veil, that is, his flesh,

21 and since we have “a great priest over the house of God,”

22 let us approach

with a sincere heart and in absolute trust, (=faith)
with our hearts sprinkled clean
from an evil conscience
and our bodies washed

in pure water.

23 Let us hold unwaveringly

to our confession that gives us hope,
for he who made the promise
is trustworthy.
24 We must consider
how to rouse one another
to love
and good works.

25 We should not

stay away from our assembly,
as is the custom of some,

but encourage one another,
and this all the more

as you see the day
drawing near.

Outline of the Message for Lent 2012

  • Introduction
    • the theme: “Let us be concerned for each other, to stir a response in love and good works” (Heb. 10:24)
    • the verse in context
  • 1. “let us be concerned for each other”: responsibility towards our brothers and sisters
    • the Greek verb katanoein
    • the call to be “guardians” of our brothers and sisters (Gen. 4:9)
    • desiring the good for the other
      • the parable of the Good Samaritan
      • the parable of Dives and Lazarus
    • the other’s spiritual well-being: fraternal correction in view of eternal salvation
      • the use of the verb elenchein
      • “admonishing sinners” as a work of mercy
      • mutual assistance
  • 2. being concerned for each other: the gift of reciprocity
    • the “custody of others” as a counter-culture
    • …flows from the Eucharist
  • 3. “to stir a response in love and good works”: walking together in holiness
    • our common call and journey
    • sharing our spiritual riches with one another
  • Conclusion: anticipating one another in charity, service and good works (Heb. 6:10)

The document reads like an extended homily or a prepared reflection for a retreat. I think that it can be a fruitful resource even for the laity. Read the document at the Vatican website.