Pope Francis has reminded Mexican faithful that Lent is a time to rediscover our joy as God’s children, and warned against three daily temptations that seek to destroy our Father’s plan for us.
The Holy Father did this during the Mass he celebrated this morning in Ecatepec, Mexico, during his second full day in the Latin American nation. Some 300,000 pilgrims awaited the Holy Father for the Mass in Ecatepec, considered to be one of the country’s poorest areas.
Not ‘Memory Chest’
The Holy Father reminded the faithful that Lent is a special time, which enables us to recall the gift of our baptism, when we became God’s children, and prepares us to celebrate Easter.
“The Church invites us to renew the gift she has given us, to not let this gift lie dormant as if it were something from the past or locked away in some “memory chest”.”
Lent, rather, he pointed out, is a good time to recover the joy and hope that make us “feel beloved sons and daughters” of the Father.
“The Father who waits for us in order to cast off our garments of exhaustion, of apathy, of mistrust,” the Argentine Pontiff said, so He can clothe us “with the dignity which only a true father or mother knows how to give their children, with the garments born of tenderness and love.”
‘Our Father’ … Not, ‘My Father,’ ‘Your Stepfather’
Our Father, the Pope explained, is the Father of a great family, Who has ‘a unique love,’ one which ‘does not know how to bear or raise an “only child.”.
Noting that God’s love is for all his children together, Francis said, “He is the God who is ‘Our Father”, not ‘my father’ nor ‘your stepfather.'”
Time of Conversion, Opening Eyes
Stressing God’s ‘dream’ to welcome us fully as His children, the Pope pointed out how Lent is a time of conversion. He warned how this is necessary given that this dream “is continually threatened by the father of lies, by the one who tries to separate us, making a divided and fractious society.”
Francis also noted how Lent is a time for reconsidering our feelings and letting our eyes be opened to the injustices which lie opposed to God’s dream and plan for us.
Given this, the Pontiff continued, “It is a time to unmask three great temptations that wear down and fracture the image which God wanted to form in us.”
Francis explained that the three temptations of Christ, namely wealth, vanity, and pride, “seek to destroy what we have been called to be” and “try to corrode us and tear us down.”
Wealth, he noted, takes ‘the ‘bread’ based on the toil of others, or even at the expense of their very lives,’ and causes pain, bitterness, and suffering.
‘The pursuit of prestige based on continuous, relentless exclusion of those who ‘are not like me,’ Francis warned, is vanity. It involves the “futile chasing of those five minutes of fame.”
Pride, the Pope noted, involves “putting oneself on a higher level than one truly is on, feeling that one does not share the life of ‘mere mortals,’ and yet being one who prays every day: “I thank you Lord that you have not made me like those others…”
The Holy Father noted Christians are faced with these three temptations daily, and “which seek to corrode, destroy and extinguish the joy and freshness of the Gospel.
“Three temptations which lock us into a cycle of destruction and sin.”
So Let’s Ask Ourselves
Given this, the Pontiff said, it is worth asking ourselves three questions: “To what degree are we aware of these temptations in our lives, in our very selves?” … “How much have we become accustomed to a lifestyle where we think that our source and life force lies only in wealth?” … “To what point do we feel that caring about others, our concern and work for bread, for the good name and dignity of others, are wellsprings of happiness and hope?”
Since we wish to follow the footsteps of Jesus, not the Evil One, and this is not easy, the Pope said, the Church gives us Lent.
Don’t Dialogue With Devil
Off the cuff, the Pope said, “let us be clear about this, we cannot dialogue with the devil, we cannot do this because he will always win.”
“Only the power of Gods’ word can overcome him,” Francis said, noting, “We have opted for Jesus and not for the devil; we want to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, even though we know that this is not easy.”
For this reason, the Church gives us the gift of this Lenten season, invites us to conversion, offering but one certainty: he is waiting for us and wants to heal our hearts of all that tears us down. He is the God who has a name: Mercy.
Pope Francis invited the faithful gathered before him to repeat with him, ‘You are my God and in you I trust.’
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