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First Sunday of Lent

February 17, 2024

The desert, an invitation to grow in freedom

We continue on this Lenten journey with the message of Pope Francis.

When our God reveals himself, he communicates freedom. This is not exhausted in a single event, because it matures along the way.

Just as Israel in the desert still carries Egypt within her, so too today the people of God carry within them oppressive bonds that they must decide to abandon. We realize this when we lack hope and wander through life as if in a desolate wasteland, without a promised land towards which we can walk together. (Ex. 20,2)

Jesus himself was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tested in his freedom. God does not want subjects, but children. In Lent we find new criteria of judgment and a community with which to embark on a path we would never have traveled before.

More terrible than Pharaoh are the idols, we could consider them as his voice in us. Feeling omnipotent, recognized by all, taking advantage over others, every human being feels the seduction of this lie.

We can become attached to money, to certain projects, ideas, objectives, to our position, to a tradition and even to some people. Those things, instead of driving us, paralyze us; instead of uniting us, they will pit us against each other. Idols make us mute, blind, deaf, and immobile to those who serve them.

The poor in spirit are open and well disposed; they are a silent force that heals and sustains the world. Jesus is one of the latter.

From Pope Francis’ Lenten Message 2024

To think and pray:

  • When God reveals himself, he communicates freedom. How is God liberating me?
  • We realize this when we lack hope and wander through life. What ties take away my hope and make me wander through life?
  • In Lent we find new criteria for judgment. Looking at Jesus, what new elements of judgment does he discover for you?
  • More terrible than Pharaoh are the idols? What idols paralyze me? Review those named by the Pope, are there any that tempt you?
  • The poor in spirit are a silent force that heals and sustains the world. Do you know people who are this silent force that heals and sustains the world? Look at them, what they do, how they react, how they relate to others and to the difficulty…. Ask for them and let yourself be infected by their poverty of spirit.

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