In his message for Lent 2024, Pope Francis invites the faithful to “pause” for prayer and to assist our brothers and sisters in need, in order to change our own lives and the lives of our communities.
“When our God reveals Himself, His message is always one of freedom,” Pope Francis says in the opening of his Message to the faithful for Lent 2024.
Recalling the Exodus of the Hebrew people from Egypt, the Holy Father explains that our journey through the desert can be a season of grace – not an abstract journey, but a concrete path that involves seeing the world as it is and hearing the cries of our oppressed brothers and sisters.
Countering a globalization of indifference
The Pope insisted on the need to counter a “globalization of indifference.”
“Our Lenten journey will be concrete if… we realize that even today we remain under the rule of Pharoah. A rule that makes us weary and indifferent. A model of growth that divides us and robs us of our future.”
At the same time, Pope Francis reminded us that it is God who takes the initiative. Too often, he said, there remains within us “an inexplicable longing for slavery,” a desire to cling to idols that paralyze us, as Israel was paralyzed in the desert.
Lent, however, is a “season of grace, a time of conversion,” where the desert can become “a place where our freedom can mature in a personal decision not to fall back into slavery,” where “we find new criteria of justice and a community with which we can press forward on a road not yet taken.”
Pausing for prayer and to help our neighbour
He added that the Lenten journey involves a struggle. It is a time for action, the Pope said, but also a time “to pause” – to pause in prayer and to pause “in the presence of a wounded brother or sister.”
“Love of God and love of neighbour are one love,” Pope Francis continued, explaining that “the contemplative dimension” of Lent can help us “release new energies,” to be “more sensitive to one another: in the place of threats and enemies, we discover companions and fellow travelers.”
‘A flash of new hope’
Pope Francis concluded his Lenten message on a hopeful note: “To the extent that this Lent becomes a time of conversion, an anxious humanity will notice a burst of creativity, a flash of new hope.”
Calling on the faithful to “be ready to take risks,” he invited them “to find the courage to see our world, not as in its death throes, but in a process of giving birth; not at the end, but at the beginning of a great new chapter of history.”
“Faith and charity,” he said, “take hope, this small child, by the hand. They teach her to walk, and at the same time, she leads them forward.”
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