03/01/2017, 14.41
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Pope: Lent, a journey of hope, because "oriented" towards Easter

"The fact that Jesus has opened the way for eternal life" does not mean that He has done it all and we must not do anything, that he has passed through the Cross, and we 'go to heaven in a carriage'. Not so. Our salvation is certainly his gift, but because it is a love story, it requires our 'yes' and our participation, as demonstrated by our Mother Mary, and after her, all the saints. "

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Lent, which begins today is a "journey of hope", because it is oriented towards Easter, to "make us rise again with Christ", but the fact that Jesus has opened the way for eternal life “does not mean that he has done it all and we do not have to do anything, that he has passed through the Cross, and we 'go to heaven in a carriage'. Not so. Our salvation is certainly his gift, but because it is a love story, it requires our 'yes' and our participation, as demonstrated by our Mother Mary, and after her, all the saints".

The meaning of Lent as a "time of hope" was the focus of Pope Francis catechesis for the general audience this Ash Wednesday. Speaking to 20 thousand people in St. Peter's Square, the Pope recalled that fact “Lent is a journey towards the Risen Jesus, it is a period of penance, also of mortification, but not as an end in itself, rather geared to make us rise again with Christ, to renew our baptismal identity, namely, to be reborn again “from on high,” from the love of God (cf. John 3:3). See why Lent is, by its nature, a time of hope”.

“To understand better what this means, we must refer to the fundamental experience of the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, narrated by the Bible in the Book that bears this name: Exodus. The point of departure is the condition of slavery in Egypt, oppression, forced labor. However, the Lord has not forgotten His people and His promise: He calls Moses and, with a powerful arm, has the Israelites leave Egypt and guides them through the desert to the land of freedom. During this journey from slavery to freedom, the Lord gives the Israelites the Law, to educate them to love Him, only Lord, and to love one another as brothers. Scripture shows that the exodus was long and troubled: it lasted symbolically 40 years, namely, the lifetime of a generation. A generation that, in face of the trials of the journey, was always tempted to regret Egypt and to turn back. We also know the temptation to turn back, all of us. But the Lord remains faithful and those poor people, led by Moses, arrived at the Promised Land. The whole of this journey was undertaken in hope: the hope of reaching the Land, and in this sense it is precisely an “exodus,” a going out of slavery to freedom. And these 40 days are, for all of us also, a going out from slavery, from sin, to freedom, to the encounter with the Risen Christ. Every step, every effort, every trial, every fall and every recovery, all make sense only within the plan of salvation of God, who wants life for His people and not death, joy and not sorrow”.

“Jesus’ Easter is His exodus, with which He has opened the way for us to attain full, eternal and blessed life. To open this way, this passage, Jesus had to strip Himself of His glory, humble Himself, be obedient to death and to death on the cross. To open the way for us to eternal life cost Him all His blood, and, thanks to Him, we are saved from the slavery of sin. But this does not mean that He did all and we have nothing to do, that He went through the cross and we “go to Paradise in a carriage.” It’s not so. Our salvation is certainly His gift, but, because it is a story of love, it requires our “yes” and our participation in His love, as our Mother Mary shows us and, after her, all the Saints”.

“Lent lives of this dynamic: Christ precedes us with His exodus, and we go through the desert thanks to Him and behind Him. He was tempted for us, and He defeated the Tempter for us, but with Him, we must also face temptations and overcome them. He gives us the living water of His Spirit, and it is for us to draw from His source and drink, in the Sacraments, in prayer, in adoration. He is the light that overcomes the darkness, and we are asked to kindle the little flame that was entrusted to us on the day of our Baptism”.

“In this sense, Lent is a “sacramental sign of our conversion” (Roman Missal, Collect, First Sunday of Lent); one who undertakes the way of Lent is always on the way of conversion. Lent is the sacramental sign of our journey from slavery to freedom, ever to be renewed — a journey that is certainly demanding, as it is right that it should be, because love is demanding, but <it is> a journey full of hope. Rather, I will say more: the Lenten exodus is the journey in which hope itself is formed. The exhaustion of crossing the desert – all the trials, the temptations, the illusions, the mirages . . .–, all this is useful to forge a strong, solid hope on the model of that of the Virgin Mary, who in the midst of the darkness of the Passion and Death of her Son continued to believe and to hope in His Resurrection, in the victory of God’s love. Let us enter Lent today with a heart open to this horizon. Feeling ourselves part of the people of God, we begin with joy this journey of hope”.

Speaking to Arabic language pilgrims he concluded “ Lent is a journey of hope: the hope of reaching the Passover through the desert of fasting and of mortification; a journey of faith, where we experience the love faithfulness of God who never abandons us; a penitential journey, where salvation is accomplished and fulfilled through the free response of man; a path of liberation from the idols of the world to come to the freedom of God’s children; a journey of the victory over the temptations with the help of prayer and the sacraments”.

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