By Leela Ramdeen
The theme of Pope Francis’ Message for Lent 2020 is: We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God, a quote from St Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians (5:20).
This year, Lent runs from Wednesday, February 26 to Thursday, April 9. The message was published on February 24. It was signed October 7, 2019, the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.
The message is divided into four sections:
Pope Francis reminds us that during Lent, God gives us again a time to prepare for and embrace the paschal mystery—the mystery of Jesus’ Passion, Death, and Resurrection—as the basis of constant conversion.
He urges Catholics not to take this time of conversion for granted. It’s a time to grow closer to God, to be reconciled with Him, and to experience new life in Christ: “This new opportunity ought to awaken in us a sense of gratitude and stir us from our sloth,” he argues. “Despite the sometimes-tragic presence of evil in our lives, and in the life of the Church and the world, this opportunity to change our course expresses God’s unwavering will not to interrupt his dialogue of salvation with us.”
He warns us that if we listen to the tempting voice of the ‘father of lies,’ (Satan), “we risk sinking into the abyss of absurdity, and experiencing hell here on earth as all too many tragic events in the personal and collective human experience sadly bear witness.”
He emphasises the importance of prayer during Lent, as a means of responding to God’s love, “which always precedes and sustains us”. We are also called to hear and respond to the Word of Jesus, in order to experience “the mercy He freely gives us”. He invites us, the faithful, to fix our eyes on the crucified Lord, and allow ourselves “to be saved over and over again”.
“Putting the paschal mystery at the centre of our lives means feeling compassion towards the wounds of the crucified Christ present in the many innocent victims of wars, in attacks on life, from that of the unborn to that of the elderly, and various forms of violence.”
These wounds are “likewise present in environmental disasters, the unequal distribution of the earth’s goods, human trafficking in all its forms and the unbridled thirst for profit, which is a form of idolatry”. We must be personally committed to and involved in “the building of a better world”.
Not only are Christians called to generously share the richness of the gospel and gifts from God, “today, too, there is a need to appeal to men and women of good will to share, by almsgiving, their goods with those most in need, as a means of personally participating in the building of a better world….We can and must go even further, and consider the structural aspects of our economic life”.
He has convened a meeting to take place in Assisi from March 26–28 with “young economists, entrepreneurs and change-makers with the aim of shaping a more just and inclusive economy”.
Pope Francis ends his message with a prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary “that our Lenten celebration will open our hearts to hear God’s call to be reconciled to Himself….”
Let’s open our hearts during Lent and be reconciled with God, self, neighbour and creation so that we can become “what Christ asks his disciples to be: the salt of the earth and the light of the world”.
Indifference to our neighbour and to God also represents a real temptation for us Christians. Each year during Lent we need to hear once more the voice of the prophets who cry out and trouble our conscience.
—Pope Francis Lenten Message 2015
CCSJ Social Justice Education Committee