Lent is a special time for Christians because it recharges and renews our life of Faith, hope and charity. This moment, offered every year to believers, invites us to go to the desert, not alone, but with the Holy Spirit. This walk towards the desert is a pilgrimage towards our own interiority, the true sanctuary, the dwelling place of God. In these 40 days, we will be accompanied by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God. Certainly with the temptations to be overcome, through fidelity to the commandment of love, through our baptismal and spiritual commitments, including family and social duties, we will reach our destination, willed by God, voluntarily welcomed in joy and freedom. In the Lenten message, the Holy Father tells us, "Behold, we go up to Jerusalem. In this message he tells us that this time helps us to renew our faith, hope and charity.
To do this, today's Gospel proposes three important steps. We must learn to control ourselves, learn to take care of the body, choose the necessary food, etc. The Gospel will call it 'fasting' or abstinence. To feed man according to our needs, not by our desires. If we are led to that desire which is right before God, let us commit ourselves, putting the common desire before personal desires. Good physical health, inspired in faith, directs us towards mental health, which obliges us to live with the other as our brothers and sisters, sharing our life with them.
Sharing is a fruit of good mental health, which makes us discover not only the suffering of our brothers and sisters, but also our capacity to alleviate their suffering. Let us be sure in faith, my brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ, with the Five Loaves that we have, and if we dare to share them with our brothers and sisters as the widow of Sarepta who fed the prophet Elijah, the Lord will multiply them and leave with us 12 baskets of bread. How can we travel this path towards resurrection without being charitable? When we say, let us be charitable, let our charity not be limited by the sharing of our material goods, which is easier than others, like by listening, by spending qulitative time and by presence, etc. The Gospel will name it as almsgiving.
The third stage is that of prayer, the source of everything, our intimate relationship with God. Prayer was the Lord's favourite moment. We see him very often in prayer, united with his Father. Let us not reduce the prayer with the recitation of words, of simple supplications. Prayer is a silent listening, and simply being with God in profound joy and peace. Let us look at the Father in Jesus, and let us allow ourselves to be looked at by God. This gaze takes its perfection from the gaze of Jesus crucified, a gaze full of love and compassion, a gaze that forgives everything and everyone, even if we do not deserve it. Let us contemplate it and make it our own. It is in prayer that our mental health finds its meaning and perfection. It’s in prayer we discover the neccesity to take care of our body.
Everything is in Him, through Him, and for Him. If we take care of our bodies, it is not because it is beautiful to take care of it, rather, it is God's dwelling place, God's sanctuary. Sharing is not because your brother suffers or needs you, rather Christ who lives in him suffers with him. This Samaritan, isn't the one sent by the Father, so that you can discover Him and serve Him in him?
Our fasting of uncessary and evil elements in life, and our fasting of good things which doesn’t help us to get closer to God, our fasting of anything that separates us from the love of God, will have a meaning in promoting them in this lenten season. Anyother fasting, for the sake of fasting, may loose all its credibility of pratcing them in this lenten moment.
I share with you the beginning of the Holy Father's message, and wish that you read the complete texte as soon as you have the opportunity. "As we travel the Lenten journey, which leads us to the Easter celebrations, we remember the One who loved us "becoming obedient unto death and death from the cross" (Phil 2:8). In this time of conversion, we renew our faith, we draw the "living water" of hope and we receive with open hearts the love of God that makes us brothers and sisters in Christ. On Easter Night, we will renew the promises of our baptism to be reborn as new men and women through the intervention of the Holy Spirit. The Lenten itinerary, like the Christian itinerary, is already entirely placed under the light of the Resurrection, which inspires the feelings, attitudes and choices of those who want to follow Christ. "Good Lent!