Pope's message for Lent: "A time for renewal".

Pope Francis breaks down in his Message for Lent a passage from St. Paul's letter to the Galatians where he encourages perseverance in this "favorable time for personal and community renewal."

David Fernández Alonso-February 24, 2022-Reading time: 7 minutes
Lenten message

Photo: Pope Francis at the 2021 Ash Wednesday Mass. ©2022 Catholic News Service / U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Today, Thursday, February 24, Pope Francis published his message for Lent 2022. Next Wednesday, March 2, Ash Wednesday, will mark the beginning of a time "favorable for personal and communal renewal that leads us to the Easter of Jesus Christ, dead and risen". For this reason, Francis wants us to meditate on this passage from the letter of St. Paul to the Galatians: "Let us not grow weary in doing good, for if we do not lose heart, we will reap the rewards in due season. Therefore, while we have the opportunity, let us do good to all" (Gal 6:9-10a).. To this end, the pontiff has broken it down: he assures that this is a "favorable time" for sowing and harvesting, as well as encouraging us to have hope and not grow weary of doing good. Finally, he affirms that the harvest of good is a fruit of perseverance.

We reproduce in full below Pope Francis' Message for Lent 2022:

"Lent is a favorable time for personal and communal renewal that leads us toward the Easter of Jesus Christ dead and risen. For our Lenten journey in 2022, it will do us good to reflect on St. Paul's exhortation to the Galatians: "Let us not grow weary in doing good, for if we do not lose heart, we will reap the rewards in due season. Therefore, while we have the opportunity (kairos), let us do good to all" (Ga 6,9-10a).

Sowing and harvesting

In this passage the Apostle evokes the image of sowing and reaping, which Jesus was so fond of (cf. Mt 13). St. Paul speaks to us of a kairosWhat is this favorable time for us? Certainly, Lent is a favorable time, but so is our whole earthly existence, of which Lent is in some way an image.[1] All too often, greed and pride prevail in our lives, the desire to have, to accumulate and to consume, as shown in the Gospel parable of the foolish man, who considered his life safe and happy because he had accumulated a great harvest in his barns (cf. Lc 12,16-21). Lent invites us to conversion, to change our mentality, so that the truth and beauty of our life do not lie so much in possessing as in giving, not so much in accumulating as in sowing goodness and sharing.

The first farmer is God himself, who generously "continues to pour out into humanity seeds of goodness" (Encyclical Letter, p. 4). Fratelli tutti, 54). During Lent we are called to respond to God's gift by welcoming his "living and effective" Word (Hb 4,12). Assiduous listening to the Word of God makes us mature a docility that disposes us to welcome his work in us (cf. St 1:21), which makes our life fruitful. If this is already a reason to rejoice, even greater is the call to be "God's co-workers" (1 Co 3,9), using the present tense well (cf. Ef 5:16) so that we too can sow by doing good. This call to sow good must not be seen as a burden, but as a grace with which the Creator wants us to be actively united to his fruitful magnanimity.

What about the harvest? Isn't all the sowing done with a view to the harvest? Of course it is. The close link between sowing and reaping is corroborated by St. Paul himself when he affirms: "To a stingy sower, a stingy harvest; to a generous sower, a generous harvest" (2 Co 9,6). But what is the harvest? The first fruit of the good that we sow is in ourselves and in our daily relationships, even in the smallest gestures of kindness. In God no act of love is lost, no matter how small it may be, no "generous fatigue" is wasted (cf. Evangelii gaudium, 279). Just as a tree is known by its fruit (cf. Mt 7:16,20), a life full of good works is luminous (cf. Mt 5:14-16) and brings the perfume of Christ to the world (cf. 2 Co 2,15). Serving God, freed from sin, brings forth fruits of sanctification for the salvation of all (cf. Rm 6,22).

In reality, we only see a small part of the fruit of what we sow, since according to the Gospel proverb "one sows and another reaps" (Jn 4,37). It is precisely by sowing for the good of others that we participate in the magnanimity of God: "It is a great nobility to be capable of unleashing processes whose fruits will be gathered by others, with the hope placed in the secret forces of the good that is sown" (Encyclical Letter, 4:37). Fratelli tutti, 196). Sowing good for others frees us from the narrow logic of personal benefit and gives our actions the broad scope of gratuitousness, introducing us to the marvelous horizon of God's benevolent designs.

The Word of God broadens and elevates our gaze even more, announces to us that the truest harvest is the eschatological harvest, that of the last day, the day without sunset. The complete fruit of our life and our actions is the "fruit for eternal life" (Jn 4:36), which will be our "treasure in heaven" (Lc 18:22; cf. 12:33). Jesus himself uses the image of the seed that dies when it falls to the ground and bears fruit to express the mystery of his death and resurrection (cf. Jn 12:24); and St. Paul takes it up again to speak of the resurrection of our body: "The corruptible is sown and rises incorruptible; the dishonorable is sown and rises glorious; the weak is sown and rises full of strength; in short, a material body is sown and a spiritual body is raised" (1 Co 15,42-44). This hope is the great light that the risen Christ brings to the world: "If what we hope for in Christ is reduced only to this life, we are the most miserable of all human beings. What is certain is that Christ has risen from the dead as the first fruit of those who have died" (1 Co 15:19-20), so that those who are intimately united to Him in love, in a death like His (cf. Rm 6:5), let us also be united to his resurrection for eternal life (cf. Jn 5,29). "Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father" (Mt 13,43).

2. "Let us not grow weary of doing good".

The resurrection of Christ enlivens earthly hopes with the "great hope" of eternal life and introduces the seed of salvation already in the present time (cf. Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter, p. 4). Spe salvi, 3; 7). Faced with the bitter disappointment of so many broken dreams, with concern for the challenges that concern us, with discouragement at the poverty of our means, we are tempted to withdraw into our own individualistic selfishness and take refuge in indifference to the suffering of others. Indeed, even the best resources are limited, "the young grow weary and tired, the young stumble and fall" (Is 40,30). Nevertheless, God "gives strength to those who are weary, and increases the strength of those who are exhausted. [Those who hope in the Lord renew their strength, they fly like eagles; they run and do not grow weary, they walk and do not grow tired" (Is 40,29.31). Lent calls us to place our faith and hope in the Lord (cf. 1 P 1:21), because only with eyes fixed on the risen Christ (cf. Hb 12:2) we can welcome the Apostle's exhortation: "Let us not grow weary in doing good" (Ga 6,9).

Let us not tire of praying. Jesus has taught us that it is necessary to "pray always without becoming discouraged" (Lc 18,1). We need to pray because we need God. To think that we are sufficient on our own is a dangerous illusion. With the pandemic we have felt our personal and social fragility. May Lent now allow us to experience the consolation of faith in God, without which we cannot have stability (cf. Is 7,9). No one is saved alone, because we are all in the same boat amid the storms of history;[2] but above all, no one is saved without God, because only the paschal mystery of Jesus Christ enables us to overcome the dark waters of death. Faith does not exempt us from the tribulations of life, but it enables us to go through them united to God in Christ, with the great hope that does not disappoint and whose pledge is the love that God has poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (cf. Rm 5,1-5).

Let us not tire of removing evil from our lives.. May the bodily fasting that the Church asks of us during Lent strengthen our spirit for the fight against sin. Let us never tire of asking for forgiveness in the sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, knowing that God never tires of forgiving[3]. Let us not tire of fighting against concupiscence.The fragility that drives us to selfishness and to all kinds of evil, and which throughout the centuries has found different ways to plunge man into sin (cf. Encyclical Letter, "The Eternal Life of Man"). Fratelli tutti, 166). One of these ways is the risk of dependence on digital media, which impoverishes human relationships. Lent is a propitious time to counteract these insidiousnesses and cultivate, instead, a more integral human communication (cf. ibid., 43) made up of "real encounters" (ibid., 50), face to face. Let us not grow weary of doing good in active charity towards our fellow man. During this Lent let us practice almsgiving, giving joyfully (cf. 2 Co 9,7). God, "who provides seed for the sower and bread for food" (2 Co 9:10), provides each of us not only with what we need to subsist, but also so that we can be generous in doing good to others.

If it is true that our whole life is a time for sowing good, let us take advantage especially of this Lent to care for those close to us, to be neighbor to those brothers and sisters who are wounded on life's journey (cf. Lc 10,25-37). Lent is a propitious time to seek out - and not avoid - those in need; to call - and not ignore - those who wish to be heard and receive a good word; to visit - and not abandon - those who suffer loneliness. Let us put into practice the call to do good. to allWe must take time to love the least and defenseless, the abandoned and despised, those who are discriminated against and marginalized (cf. Encyclical Letter, p. 4). Fratelli tutti, 193).

3. "If we do not falter, we will reap in due time".

Lent reminds us every year that "goodness, as well as love, justice and solidarity, are not achieved once and for all; they must be conquered every day" (ibid., 11). Therefore, let us ask God for the patient constancy of the farmer (cf. St 5:7) so as not to give up doing good, one step after another. Whoever falls, reach out to the Father, who always raises us up again. Whoever finds himself lost, deceived by the seductions of the evil one, let him not delay in returning to Him, who "is rich in forgiveness" (Is 55,7). In this time of conversion, relying on the grace of God and the communion of the Church, let us not tire of sowing good. Fasting prepares the soil, prayer waters, charity makes fruitful.

We have the certainty in faith that "if we do not lose heart, in due time we will reap" and that, with the gift of perseverance, we will attain the promised goods (cf. Hb 10:36) for our salvation and that of others (cf. 1 Tm 4,16). By practicing fraternal love with everyone, we unite ourselves to Christ, who gave his life for us (cf. 2 Co 5:14-15), and we begin to savor the joy of the Kingdom of heaven, when God will be "all in all" (1 Co 15:28), that the Virgin Mary, in whose womb the Savior was born and who "kept all these things and pondered them in her heart" (Lc 2:19) obtain for us the gift of patience and remain at our side with her maternal presence, so that this time of conversion may bear fruits of eternal salvation."

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