In his Message for Lent 2020, Pope Francis points to the paschal mystery – the mystery of Jesus’ Passion, Death, and Resurrection – as the basis of conversion. The Message bears the title “We implore you on behalf of Christ: be reconciled to God”, a quote from St Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians.
“This kerygma [fundamental proclamation of the Gospel message] sums up the mystery of a love ‘so real, so true, so concrete, that it invites us to a relationship of openness and fruitful dialogue’ (Christus vivit, 117)”, the Pope writes. “Whoever believes this message rejects the lie that our life is ours to do as we will”.
Pope Francis says that during this season of Lent, he wants to invite the faithful to fix their eyes on the crucified Lord, and allow ourselves “to be saved over and over again”. “Jesus’ Pasch is not a past event; rather, through the power of the Holy Spirit it is ever present, enabling us to see and touch with faith the flesh of Christ in those who suffer”.
The importance of prayer
The Holy Father emphasizes 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”.
God is always engaged in a “dialogue of salvation with us”, despite our weaknesses and failings, the Pope says. This desire to save us “led the Father to burden His Son with the weight of our sins, thus, in the expression of Pope Benedict XVI, ‘turning of God against Himself’ (Deus caritas est, 12)”.
A commitment to building a better world
“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”. This means being personally committed to and involved in “the building of a better world”, the Pope says. In commending charitable giving, the Pope notes the meeting he has convened for the end of march “with young economists, entrepreneurs and change-makers, with the aim of shaping a more just and inclusive economy”.
Pope Francis concludes 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, to fix our gaze on the paschal mystery, and to be converted to an open and sincere dialogue with Him”.