“The path to Easter demands that we renew our faces and hearts as Christians through repentance, conversion and forgiveness, so as to live fully the abundant grace of the paschal mystery”. Pope Francis wrote this in the final part of his message for Lent, noting that this “longing”, this “expectation” of creation, “will be fulfilled in the revelation of the children of God, that is, when Christians and all people enter decisively into the ‘travail’ that conversion entails”.
“All creation is called, with us, to go forth ‘from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God’”, Pope Francis wrote, citing the Letter to the Romans: “Lent is a sacramental sign of this conversion. It invites Christians to embody the paschal mystery more deeply and concretely in their personal, family and social lives, above all by fasting, prayer and almsgiving”.
“Fasting”, that is, “learning to change our attitude towards others and all of creation”, Pope Francis explained: “Turning away from the temptation to ‘devour’ everything to satisfy our voracity and being ready to suffer for love, which can fill the emptiness of our hearts. Prayer, which teaches us to abandon idolatry and the self-sufficiency of our ego, and to acknowledge our need of the Lord and his mercy. Almsgiving, whereby we escape from the insanity of hoarding everything for ourselves in the illusory belief that we can secure a future that does not belong to us. And thus to rediscover the joy of God’s plan for creation and for each of us, which is to love him, our brothers and sisters, and the entire world, and to find in this love our true happiness”.
Entering “the desert of creation” to make “it once more that garden of communion with God that it was before original sin”: this is what Pope Francis invites us to do this Lent, to “journey along” the same path Jesus walked, “bringing the hope of Christ also to creation”. “Let us not allow this season of grace to pass in vain!”, the Pontiff exhorted in the final part of his speech.
“Let us ask God to help us set out on a path of true conversion. Let us leave behind our selfishness and self-absorption, and turn to Jesus’ Pasch; let us stand beside our brothers and sisters in need, sharing our spiritual and material goods with them. In this way, by concretely welcoming Christ’s victory over sin and death into our lives, we will also radiate its transforming power to all of creation”.