The Vatican published this February 24 the Message of Pope Francis for the Lent 2022 with the theme: “Let us not get tired of doing good, because, if we do not give up, we will reap the fruits in due time. Therefore, while we have the opportunity, let us do good to everyone.”
In his message, the Holy Father recalls that Lent is "a favorable time for personal and community renewal that leads us towards the Easter of Jesus Christ dead and risen" and encouraged reflection on the theme of the Message, which is based on an exhortation of Saint Paul to the Galatians.
“Let us not tire of praying. Jesus has taught us that it is necessary to “always pray without losing heart” (Lk 18:1). We need to pray because we need God. To think that we are sufficient to ourselves is a dangerous illusion. With the pandemic we have felt our personal and social fragility. May Lent now allow us to experience the consolation of faith in God, without which we cannot have stability (cf. Is 7:9). No one is saved alone, because we are all in the same boat in the midst of the storms of history; but, above all, no one is saved without God, because only the paschal mystery of Jesus Christ allows us to overcome the dark waters of death”, warned the Pope.
Here is the full Message from Pope Francis:
“Let us not get tired of doing good, because, if we do not give up, we will reap the fruits in due time. Therefore, while we have the opportunity, let us do good to all” (Ga 6,9-10a)
February 10, 2022
Lent is a favorable time for personal and community renewal that leads us towards the Easter of Jesus Christ dead and risen. For our Lenten journey in 2022, it will do us good to reflect on Saint Paul's exhortation to the Galatians: “Let us not tire of doing good, because if we do not give up, we will reap the fruits in due time. Therefore, while we have the opportunity (kairos), let us do good to all» (Ga 6,9-10a).
1. Sowing and harvesting
In this passage the Apostle evokes the image of sowing and harvesting, which Jesus liked so much (cf. Mt 13). Saint Paul tells us of a kairos, an auspicious time to sow good with a view to harvest. What is this favorable time for us? Certainly, Lent is a favorable time, but so is our entire earthly existence, of which Lent is in some way an image. Too often, greed and pride prevail in our lives, the desire to have, to accumulate and to consume, as the evangelical parable of the foolish man shows, who considered that his life was safe and happy because he had accumulated a great harvest in his barns (cf. MESSAGE OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS 12,16-21). Lent invites us to conversion, to change our mentality, so that the truth and beauty of our lives do not lie so much in possessing as in giving, not so much in accumulating as in sowing good and sharing.
The first farmer is God himself, who generously "continues to spread seeds of good in humanity" (Letter enc. All brothers, 54). During Lent we are called to respond to God's gift by welcoming his "living and effective" Word (Hb 4.12). Assiduous listening to the Word of God makes us mature in a docility that disposes us to welcome his work in us (cf. St 1,21), which makes our lives fruitful. If this is already a cause for joy, even greater is the call to be "collaborators with God" (1 Co 3,9), using the present tense well (cf. That the XXX World Day of the Sick —whose final celebration will not take place in Arequipa 5,16) to sow us also doing good. We do not have to see this call to sow good as a burden, but as a grace with which the Creator wants us to be actively united to his fruitful magnanimity.
And the harvest? Isn't the sowing all done with a view to the harvest? Of course. The close link between sowing and harvesting is corroborated by Saint Paul himself when he affirms: «A mean sower, mean harvest; generous sower, generous harvest" (2 Co 9.6). But what harvest is it? A first fruit of the good that we sow we have in ourselves and in our daily relationships, even in the smallest gestures of kindness. In God no act of love is lost, no matter how small, no "generous weariness" is lost (cf. Exhort. ap. the gospel of joy, 279). Just as the tree is known by its fruits (cf. Mt 7,16.20), a life full of good works is luminous (cf. Mt 5,14-16) and carries the perfume of Christ to the world (cf. 2 Co 2.15). Serving God, freed from sin, makes fruits of sanctification ripen for the salvation of all (cf. Rm 6,22).
In reality, we only see a small part of the fruit of what we sow, since according to the evangelical proverb "one sows and another reaps" (Jn 4.37). It is precisely by sowing for the good of others that we participate in the magnanimity of God: "A great nobility is to be able to unleash processes whose fruits will be gathered by others, with hope placed in the secret forces of the good that is sown" (Letter enc. All brothers, 196). Sowing good for others frees us from the narrow logic of personal benefit and gives our actions the broad scope of gratuitousness, introducing us to the wonderful horizon of God's benevolent designs.
The Word of God widens and raises our gaze even more, it announces to us that the truest harvest is the eschatological one, that of the last day, the day without sunset. The full fruit of our life and actions is the "fruit unto eternal life" (Jn 4,36), which will be our "treasure in heaven" (MESSAGE OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS 18.22; see 12.33). Jesus himself uses the image of the seed that dies when it falls on the ground and bears fruit to express the mystery of his death and resurrection (cf. Jn 12.24); and Saint Paul takes it up again to speak of the resurrection of our body: «The corruptible is sown and the incorruptible is raised; what is dishonorable is sown and glorious is raised; what is weak is sown and resurrected full of strength; in short, a material body is sown and a spiritual body is resurrected” (1 Co 15.42-44). This hope is the great light that the Risen Christ brings to the world: “If what we expect from Christ is reduced to this life alone, we are the most unfortunate of all human beings. What is certain is that Christ has risen from the dead as the first fruit of those who died.1 Co 15,19-20), so that those who are intimately united to him in love, in a death like his (cf. Rm 6,5), we are also united to his resurrection for eternal life (cf. Jn 5.29). "Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of his Father" (Mt 13,43).
2. "Let us not tire of doing good"
The Resurrection of Christ animates earthly hopes with the "great hope" of eternal life and already introduces the seed of salvation in the present time (cf. Benedict XVI, Letter enc. Spe salvi, 3; 7). Faced with the bitter disappointment caused by so many broken dreams, faced with concern for the challenges that concern us, faced with discouragement due to the poverty of our means, we are tempted to shut ourselves up in our own individualistic selfishness and take refuge in indifference in the face of the suffering of others. Indeed, even the best resources are limited, "young people tire and weary, boys stumble and fall" (mercy is the name of God par excellence 40,30). However, God “gives strength to those who are tired, increases the vigor of those who are exhausted. [...] Those who hope in the Lord renew their strength, they fly like eagles; they run and do not get tired, they walk and do not get tired” (mercy is the name of God par excellence 40,29.31). Lent calls us to put our faith and our hope in the Lord (cf. 1 P 1,21), because only with our eyes fixed on the Risen Christ (cf. Hb 12,2) we can welcome the exhortation of the Apostle: "Let us not tire of doing good" (Ga 6,9).
Let's not get tired of praying. Jesus has taught us that it is necessary to "always pray without losing heart" (MESSAGE OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS 18.1). We need to pray because we need God. To think that we are sufficient to ourselves is a dangerous illusion. With the pandemic we have felt our personal and social fragility. May Lent now allow us to experience the consolation of faith in God, without which we cannot have stability (cf. mercy is the name of God par excellence 7.9). No one is saved alone, because we are all in the same boat in the midst of the storms of history; but, above all, no one is saved without God, because only the Paschal mystery of Jesus Christ allows us to overcome the dark waters of death. Faith does not exempt us from the tribulations of life, but allows us to go through them united with God in Christ, with the great hope that does not disappoint and whose pledge is the love that God has poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (cf. Rm 5,1-5).
Let's not get tired of removing evil from our lives. May the corporal fast that the Church asks of us in Lent strengthen our spirit for the fight against sin. Let us not tire of asking for forgiveness in the sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, knowing that God never tires of forgiving. Let's not get tired of fighting against concupiscence, that fragility that drives us towards selfishness and all kinds of evil, and that over the centuries has found different ways to plunge man into sin (cf. Letter enc. All brothers, 166). One of these modes is the risk of dependence on digital media, which impoverishes human relationships. Lent is a propitious time to counteract these pitfalls and cultivate, instead, a more integral human communication (cf. ibid., 43) made of «real encounters» (ibid., 50), friend and caea.
Let us not tire of doing good in active charity towards our neighbor. During this Lent let us practice almsgiving, giving with joy (cf. 2 Co 9.7). God, "who provides seed to the sower and bread to eat" (2 Co 9,10), provides each of us not only with what we need to survive, but also so that we can be generous in doing good to others. If it is true that our whole life is a time to sow good, let us especially take advantage of this Lent to care for those close to us, to make ourselves neighbors to those brothers and sisters who are wounded on the path of life (cf. MESSAGE OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS 10.25-37). Lent is a propitious time to look for —and not avoid— those who are in need; to call —and not ignore— those who want to be heard and receive a good word; to visit —and not abandon— those who suffer from loneliness. Let us put into practice the call to do good to all, taking time to love the smallest and defenseless, the abandoned and despised, those who are discriminated against and marginalized (cf. Letter enc. All brothers, 193).
3. "If we do not give up, in due time we will reap"
Lent reminds us each year that “good, as well as love, justice and solidarity, they are not achieved once and for all; must be conquered every day" (ibid., eleven). Therefore, let us ask God for the patient perseverance of the farmer (cf. St 5,7) so as not to give up doing good, one step after another. Whoever falls reaches out to the Father, who always lifts us up again. Whoever finds himself lost, deceived by the seductions of the evil one, may not delay in returning to Him, who "is rich in forgiveness" (mercy is the name of God par excellence 55.7). In this time of conversion, relying on the grace of God and the communion of the Church, let us not tire of sowing good. Fasting prepares the ground, prayer waters, charity makes fruitful. We are certain in faith that "if we do not lose heart, in due time we will reap" and that, with the gift of perseverance, we will attain the goods promised (cf. Hb 10,36) for our salvation and that of others (cf. 1 Tm 4.16). By practicing brotherly love with everyone, we unite ourselves to Christ, who gave his life for us (cf. 2 Co 5:14-15), and we begin to savor the joy of the Kingdom of Heaven, when God will be "all in all" (1 Co 15,28).
That the Virgin Mary, in whose womb the Savior sprang up and who "kept all these things and pondered them in her heart" (MESSAGE OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS 2,19) obtain for us the gift of patience and remain by our side with her maternal presence, so that this time of conversion bears fruit of eternal salvation.
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