Pope Urges Faithful to Reflect on Gratuitous Love of God

At Ash Wednesday General Audience

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 13, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II at his Ash Wednesday general audience urged the faithful to reflect on the value of gratuitous love.

«Today´s society has a profound need to rediscover the value of gratuitousness, especially because in our world a logic seems to prevail that is characterized exclusively by the pursuit of profit and earnings at all costs,» the Pontiff told the several thousand pilgrims gathered in Paul VI Hall.

The Holy Father dedicated his weekly meeting to reflect on the meaning of Lent, which began today. The 40-day penitential season leads up to the Easter Triduum.

«Given the widespread feeling that every choice and act must be dominated by the logic of the market´s buying and selling and that the law of the greatest possible profit must prevail, Christian faith proposes again the ideal of gratuitousness, based on the conscious freedom of individuals, inspired by authentic love,» John Paul II explained.

This love is no more than the response to God´s gratuitous generosity «who has created us for happiness and directs everything toward the true good,» the Pope continued.

«Lent is a providential occasion for conversion, precisely because it helps us to contemplate this wondrous mystery of love, in the light of which Jesus admonishes: ´You received without pay, give without pay,´» the Holy Father said, referring to his Lenten Message for this year.

Thus these days of prayer and penance become «a return to the roots of the faith, because, meditating on the incommensurable gift of grace that is the Redemption, we cannot but realize that everything is given by loving divine initiative,» the Pope emphasized.

«That God who in his immense love has created us, and who likewise out of love has destined us to full communion with himself, seeks the same generous, free and conscious response from us,» John Paul II explained.

«Are not almsgiving and charitable acts, which we are invited to carry out in this penitential time, a response to the gratuitousness of divine grace?» the Holy Father asked. «If we received without pay, we must give without pay.»

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