Rome (Italy). “We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” This is the title of the Message of Pope Francis for Lent 2020, addressed to all Catholics and people of good will.
The text is divided into four paragraphs in which the Pope continually invites us to reflect on the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, “the cornerstone of our personal and communal Christian life.” We must continually return to this mystery in mind and heart, for it will continue to grow within us in the measure that we are open to its spiritual power and respond with freedom and generosity.
The fact is that the Lord once again offers us a ‘favorable’ time for our conversion and reminds us that our life is born from God’s love, exhorting us to a change of course. “The fact that the Lord once again offers us a favorable time for our conversion should never be taken for granted. This new opportunity ought to awaken in us a sense of gratitude and stir us from our sloth.
Therefore, Lent calls us to accept more deeply the proclamation of the Kingdom and the invitation of conversion of heart and of life. It also draws social consequences, so that there is bread and hope for all in the small global village we live in today. The Gospels that lead us to Easter reveal the new life of those who handed themselves over to Christ, the only redeemer of humanity and the cosmos: the Samaritan woman finds dignity and faith, the blind man regains his sight, Lazarus rises from the dead! Each person can decline this radical energy of change in human relationships, in social, economic, political life. It is a task for all men and women of good will, for lay believers and witnesses, for families and communities, for companies, for institutions and for associations.
The Pope continues in his Message, “For this reason, in the midst of Lent this year, from 26 to 28 March 2020, I have convened a meeting in Assisi with young economists, entrepreneurs and change-makers, with the aim of shaping a more just and inclusive economy.” About 2,000 young economists from the whole world will come together to design an economy in the style of sustainability and solidarity.
We take advantage in this time, to also review our home economy, our lifestyle, our being close to others, our being sowers of hope alongside those who struggle more.
The Pope’s invitation is once again to let ourselves get involved and give Life. Like Jesus who gave His life to introduce the Spirit of love into the world, the charity that extends our sense of justice. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice” (Mt 5,6), and who act, that is, work for it, thus sowing peace in the world, theater of the Kingdom of God in the making.
Lent will convert us to the Gospel of the Kingdom if we know how to roll up our sleeves as good workers in the Lord’s vineyard, as Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello did, calling others to work in the field. It is our work, for everyone’s work. In this way, the wealth of goods received does not become moldy but becomes a good given, shared, with trust and gratuity.
By accepting this invitation together as FMA Institute, Church, and society, we can celebrate the Easter of Resurrection with tangible joy for having permitted some families, young people, and children to celebrate it with renewed dignity and trust in life.
The victory of life over death changes our eyes even in this time of great fear for humanity, for the spread of the virus that creates insecurity and keeps many people anxious and at home. Jesus also made His “quarantine”, of struggle with evil, and He won by feeding on the Word of the Father.
We too are called to live this desert as a time of purification and maturation of the faith, an occasion to recuperate interior silence: hunger for the Gospel, for prayer, for community intimacy, for all that is essential in life.
Pope Francis says, that thanks to the Paschal Mystery, we have been given God’s mercy which we can experience only in a, “face to face relationship with the Crucified and Risen Lord.“
This is why prayer is so important during Lent. It expresses the need to correspond to God’s love that always precedes and sustains us. Deep prayer can chip away at our hardness of heart, in order to convert us ever more fully to God and to His will.
Holy Lenten journey to all the FMA spread out in the world, to the young and to the laity, to the Salesians, and to the whole Salesian Family. Together, let us go towards Easter with the ever greater desire to meet each other and to recount to each other in the light of the Risen One, our commitment to conversion.