Francis says this Lent love means “caring for those who suffer or feel abandoned and fearful because of the Covid-19 pandemic. In these days of deep uncertainty about the future, let us keep in mind the Lord’s word to his Servant, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you” (Is 43:1). In our charity, may we speak words of reassurance and help others to realize that God loves them as sons and daughters”.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – “Live Lent as a path of conversion, prayer and sharing of our goods”. This is the invitation that Pope Francis makes in his message for Lent this year, which has as its theme “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem …” (Mt 20:18), published today.
The Lenten journey, Francis recalls, is a time of conversion in which “renew our faith, draw from the “living water” of hope, and receive with open hearts the love of God, who makes us brothers and sisters in Christ”. “Fasting, prayer and almsgiving, as preached by Jesus (cf. Mt 6:1-18), enable and express our conversion. The path of poverty and self-denial (fasting), concern and loving care for the poor (almsgiving), and childlike dialogue with the Father (prayer) make it possible for us to live lives of sincere faith, living hope and effective charity.”
The renewed faith “calls us to accept the truth and testify to it before God and all our brothers and sisters. In this Lenten season, accepting and living the truth revealed in Christ means, first of all, opening our hearts to God’s word, which the Church passes on from generation to generation.” A truth that “is not an abstract concept reserved for a chosen intelligent few. Instead, it is a message that all of us can receive and understand thanks to the wisdom of a heart open to the grandeur of God, who loves us even before we are aware of it. Christ himself is this truth. By taking on our humanity, even to its very limits, he has made himself the way – demanding, yet open to all – that leads to the fullness of life.”
Fasting, then, “experienced as a form of self-denial, helps those who undertake it in simplicity of heart to rediscover God’s gift and to recognize that, created in his image and likeness, we find our fulfilment in him” and fasting “involves being freed from all that weighs us down – like consumerism or an excess of information, whether true or false – in order to open the doors of our hearts to the One who comes to us, poor in all things, yet “full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14): the Son of God our Saviour.”.
Hope, then as “living water” enabling us to continue our journey” lived with Jesus and thanks to Jesus “means believing that history does not end with our mistakes, our violence and injustice, or the sin that crucifies Love. It means receiving from his open heart the Father’s forgiveness.”. Even in the current context of concern, “Lent is precisely the season of hope, when we turn back to God who patiently continues to care for his creation which we have often mistreated (cf. Laudato Si’, 32-33; 43-44). Saint Paul urges us to place our hope in reconciliation: “Be reconciled to God” (2 Cor 5:20). By receiving forgiveness in the sacrament that lies at the heart of our process of conversion, we in turn can spread forgiveness to others. Having received forgiveness, ourselves, we can offer it through our willingness to enter into attentive dialogue with others and to give comfort to those experiencing sorrow and pain. God’s forgiveness, offered also through our words and actions, enables us to experience an Easter of fraternity. In Lent, may we be increasingly concerned with “speaking words of comfort, strength, consolation and encouragement, and not words that demean, sadden, anger or show scorn” (Fratelli Tutti, 223)”.
Lover “following in the footsteps of Christ, in concern and compassion for all, is the highest expression of our faith and hope. Love rejoices in seeing others grow. Hence it suffers when others are anguished, lonely, sick, homeless, despised or in need. Love is a leap of the heart; it brings us out of ourselves and creates bonds of sharing and communion.”, it is “is a gift that gives meaning to our lives. It enables us to view those in need as members of our own family, as friends, brothers or sisters. A small amount, if given with love, never ends, but becomes a source of life and happiness.”
“To experience Lent with love means caring for those who suffer or feel abandoned and fearful because of the Covid-19 pandemic. In these days of deep uncertainty about the future, let us keep in mind the Lord’s word to his Servant, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you” (Is 43:1). In our charity, may we speak words of reassurance and help others to realize that God loves them as sons and daughters.”.
The appeal to experience Lent as a path of conversion, Francis concludes, “helps us – as communities and as individuals – to revive the faith that comes from the living Christ, the hope inspired by the breath of the Holy Spirit and the love flowing from the merciful heart of the Father.”
Card. Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for Integral human development, who presented the message, noted the Pope “collects and organizes the lessons of the passion, crucifixion and resurrection” that Jesus gave: “the lesson of obedient faith with which Jesus embraced his passion and his cross, the lesson of poverty: the poverty of emptying oneself and becoming a slave, to serve and enrich humanity from its poverty (Phil 2: 6-8; Mt 20,28; Jn 13: 4-12). – the lesson of love: the love of the Father for his Son and for the world (Jn 3:16), the love of Jesus for his Father (Jn 10, 17-18), as well as his love for his followers (Jn 13: 1). The lesson of prayer with which Jesus began his agony in Gethsemane, with which he prayed for his crucifiers and with which he recommended himself into the hands of the Father. Finally, the lesson of hope in his resurrection, which he promises even to the repentant thief (Lk.23,41-42)”.