Pope urges the faithful not to grow tired of doing good for Lent
In his message for the time that leads up to Easter, the pontiff says: “Let us not grow tired of asking for forgiveness in the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation”. He warns against “addiction to digital media” and urges the faithful to “seek out – and not to avoid – those in need.”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – In his message for this year’s Lent, released by the Vatican Press Office today, Pope Francis said that, “Bitter disappointment at shattered dreams, deep concern for the challenges ahead and discouragement at the poverty of our resources can make us tempted to seek refuge in self-centredness and indifference to the suffering of others.”
In responding to this attitude, “The Lenten season calls us to place our faith and hope in the Lord”. In his message, the pontiff choses as biblical reference for his reflection a verse from Paul’s exhortation to the Galatians: “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” (Gal 6:9-10).
Francis takes up the image of sowing, mentioned by the apostle. “All too often in our lives,” he says, “greed, pride and the desire to possess, accumulate and consume have the upper hand”. By contrast, “Lent invites us to conversion, to a change in 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.”
“A first fruit of the goodness we sow appears in ourselves and our daily lives, even in our little acts of kindness.” But in the end, “Serving God in freedom from sin brings forth fruits of sanctification for the salvation of all”.
The fruits go beyond us since “Sowing goodness for the benefit of others frees us from narrow self-interest, infuses our actions with gratuitousness, and makes us part of the magnificent horizon of God’s benevolent plan.” Thus, “the real harvest is eschatological, the harvest of the last, undying day”.
Lent reminds us that the Christ’s resurrection inspires our earthly hopes. However, “Bitter disappointment at shattered dreams, deep concern for the challenges ahead and discouragement at the poverty of our resources, can make us tempted to seek refuge in self-centredness and indifference to the suffering of others.”
“[O]nly if we fix our gaze on the risen Christ will we be able to respond to the Apostle’s appeal, ‘Let us never grow tired of doing good’.” More importantly, “Let us not grow tired of praying. Jesus taught us to ‘pray always without becoming weary’ (Lk 18:1). We need to pray because we need God. Thinking that we need nothing other than ourselves is a dangerous illusion.
“If the pandemic has heightened the awareness of our own personal and social fragility, may this Lent allow us to experience the consolation provided by faith in God, without whom we cannot stand firm (cf. Is 7:9). No one attains salvation alone, since we are all in the same boat, amid the storms of history; and certainly no one reaches salvation without God, for only the paschal mystery of Jesus Christ triumphs over the dark waters of death.”
“Let us not grow tired of uprooting evil from our lives. May the corporal fasting to which Lent calls us fortify our spirit for the battle against sin. Let us not grow tired of asking for forgiveness in the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, knowing that God never tires of forgiving. Let us not grow tired of fighting against concupiscence, that weakness which induces to selfishness and all evil”.
In view of this, Francis warns against “addiction to the digital media, which impoverishes human relationships. Lent is a propitious time to resist these temptations and to cultivate instead a more integral form of human communication made up of ‘authentic encounters’, face-to-face and in person.”
“Let us not grow tired of doing good in active charity towards our neighbours. During this Lent, may we practise almsgiving by giving joyfully”.
“Lent is a favourable time to seek out – and not to avoid – those in need; to reach out – and not to ignore – those who need a sympathetic ear and a good word; to visit – and not to abandon – those who are lonely. Let us put into practice our call to do good to all, and take time to love the poor and needy, those abandoned and rejected, those discriminated against and marginalized”.
“The soil is prepared by fasting, watered by prayer and enriched by charity. Let us believe firmly that ‘if we do not give up, we shall reap our harvest in due time’”.
“May the Virgin Mary, who bore the Saviour in her womb and ‘pondered all these things in her heart’ (Lk 2:19), obtain for us the gift of patience. May she accompany us with her maternal presence, so that this season of conversion may bring forth fruits of eternal salvation.”