As the Church today marks the beginning of Lent, Pope Francis noted that St. Paul does not merely advise or suggest being reconciled with God. Rather, he pleas for it.
The Pope said this during his Ash Wednesday homily this evening, in reference to 2 Corinthians 5:20: “We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
“Why such a solemn and heartbroken appeal?” the Holy Father asked. “Because Christ knows how fragile and sinful we are; He knows the weakness of our heart; He sees it wounded by the evil we have committed and right away, He knows how much we need forgiveness.”
God knows “that we must feel loved to do good,” Francis added.
Paul’s pleading, though, is not that we do something, but rather that we submit:
“The Apostle does not tell us to do something, but to allow ourselves to be reconciled by God, to permit Him to forgive us, with trust, because ‘God is greater than our hearts,’” the Pontiff explained.
Our task is simply to “acknowledge ourselves in need of mercy,” the Pope said, remarking that this is the “first step of the Christian journey.”
“It is about entering through the open door that is Christ, where He Himself, the Savior, awaits us and offers us a new and joyful life.”
Obstacles to avoid
The Holy Father went on to warn against obstacles to this openness, obstacles that “close the doors of the heart.”
One is minimizing our sin and justifying it with an attitude of, I’m no worse than anyone else.
Another is being too ashamed to open the door: “In reality, shame is a good symptom, because it indicates that we want to detach ourselves from evil; however, it must never be transformed into dread or fear,” the Pope cautioned.
A third obstacle is “distancing ourselves from the door,” i.e., remaining in our miseries, in constant brooding: “This happens because we remain alone with ourselves, closing ourselves and fleeing from the light, whereas only the Lord’s grace frees us.”
“Let us then be reconciled, let us listen to Jesus who says to those who are tired and oppressed ‘Come to me,’” Francis said. “Do not remain in yourselves but go to Him! There is restoration and peace.”
On ZENIT’s Web page:
Full text, including a reflection on the three practices of Lent, fasting, prayer and almsgiving, which the Pope calls “three remedies, three medicines that heal sin”: https://zenit.org/articles/popes-homily-at-ash-wednesday-mass/