In his message for Lent this year, Pope Francis points to the paschal mystery — the mystery of Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection — as the basis of conversion.
The message bears the subtitle: “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,” he says.
Francis invites the faithful to fix their eyes during the 40-day season of Lent on the crucified Lord and allow themselves “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 pope writes.
Francis emphasizes the importance of prayer during Lent, as a means of responding to God’s love, “which always precedes and sustains us.”
Christians are also called to hear and respond to the Word of Jesus, in order to experience “the mercy he freely gives us,” Francis says.
God is always engaged in a “dialogue of salvation with us,” despite our weaknesses and failings, he 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)”, Francis writes.
“Putting the paschal mystery at the center 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,” Francis says.
This means being personally committed to and involved in “the building of a better world.”