What you need to know:
- Take this. It is again this time of the year that we have to observe Lent. Most Christians have to find their way around it. We bring you the Lenten message of Pope Francis for this Lenten Season, abridged by Msgr John Wynand Katende
The Pope begins his message by inviting us to appreciate the Lenten season as a favourable time for personal and community renewal; as it leads us to the paschal mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
For our reflection, he proposes Saint Paul’s exhortation to the Galatians 6:9-10: “Let us not grow tired of doing good, for in due time we shall reap our harvest, if we do not give up. So then, while we have the opportunity (kairós), let us do good to all”.
Care for the wounded
According to Pope Francis, Lent is such an opportune time, for sowing the seeds of goodness in view of a future harvest.
He, however, observes that all too often in our lives, greed, pride draws our attention to the story of the foolish man, who thought his life was safe and secure because of the abundant grain and goods he had stored in his barns, as told by Luke 12:16-21. He invites us to use Lent to change our mindset, “so that life’s truth and beauty may be found not so much in possessing as in giving, not so much in accumulating as in sowing and sharing goodness.”
Referring to his encyclical Fratelli Tutti, 54, the Pope observes that God himself, is the first sower, with great generosity, the seeds of goodness in our human family. During Lent, we are called to respond to God’s gift by a regular and docile listening to his word, which is “living and active” (Hebrews 4:12).
He takes us back to Saint Paul who points to the close relationship between sowing and reaping, when he says: “Anyone who sows sparsely will reap sparsely as well, and anyone who sows generously will reap generously as well” (2 Corinthians 9:6).
The Pope notes that in God, no act of love, no matter how small, and no “generous effort” will ever be lost; it will radiate light (Matthew 5:14-16). He encourages us to sow for the benefit of others, so we may be freed from narrow self-interest, and be made part of “the magnificent horizon of God’s benevolent plan.”
Pope Francis continues to observe that the mature fruit of our lives and actions will be fully realised in eternal life (John 4:36). He makes reference to Jesus himself, who uses the image of the seed that dies in the ground in order to bear fruit as a symbol of the mystery of his death and resurrection (cf. John 12:24). “The hope of the resurrection is the great light that the risen Christ brings to the world.”
Pope Francis counsels us that bitter disappointment at shattered dreams, deep concern for the challenges ahead and discouragement at the poverty of our resources, should not make us tempted to seek refuge in self-centredness and indifference to the suffering of others. We should, instead, place our faith and hope in God (cf. 1 Peter 1:21).
Pray without ceasing
The Pope reminds us that faith does not spare us life’s burdens and tribulations, but it does allow us to face them in union with God in Christ, with the great hope that does not disappoint, pledged on the love that God has poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (cf. Romans 5:1-5). He encourages us to pray always without ceasing, because we need God (Luke 18:1).
Citing the example of Jesus, Pope Francis invites us to engage in the spiritual battle of uprooting evil from our lives, through the forty days of corporal fasting (Matthew 4:1-11).
We are reminded of accessing the sacrament of reconciliation, knowing that God never tires of forgiving. The Pope, likewise, invites us to regulate our usage of the electronic media, in order to cultivate a more integral form of human relations.
Care for the wounded
During the Lenten season, the Pope reminds us to care for those “who lie wounded along the path of life” (Luke 10:25-37).
Referring again to St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians 6:9, the Pope calls upon us to a genuine conversion “prepared by fasting, watered by prayer and enriched by charity.” He assures us that with the gift of perseverance, we shall obtain what was promised, for our salvation and the salvation of others (1 Timothy 4:16).
Pope Francis concludes his message by entrusting us into the maternal care of Mary, who did us good by bearing the Saviour, so that this season of conversion may bring forth fruits of eternal salvation.
Did you know? Human relations
We are reminded of accessing the sacrament of reconciliation, knowing that God never tires of forgiving.
The Pope, likewise, invites us to regulate our usage of the electronic media, in order to cultivate a more integral form of human relations.