Entering Lent, following Christ and becoming witnesses of hope.

Ash Wednesday is that period of the liturgical year when we undertake, with the meaningful rite of the imposition of Ashes, a renewed experience of Christ’s merciful love. Saint Brother André used to say: “The love that our Lord had in his passion brings to light the love of the good Lord for us. “Let us learn from him, to become bearers of hope and to learn how to “give back” his love to our neighbor, especially to those who suffer and are in difficulty. This is the mission of every disciple of Christ. But in order to fulfill this mission it is necessary to convert, as the evangelist Mark’s exhortation, addressed to us upon receiving the ashes, invites us to do: Convert and Believe in the Gospel.

To convert is in some way to put ourselves at school and listen to the Spirit of God, spirit of life and righteousness, so that He may become our inner Master. Lent is first of all a question of gift to be received, not of things to be done, even if these are necessary too. Our attention to others, our sharing, our fasting, our almsgiving, in order to be true and bear fruit of life, must be rooted in our deepest desire, in prayer. Then Christ will be able to purify our gaze, our hands, unify our personal capacities and riches in a spirit of self-giving, of sharing. Lent is above all at this level, since it shows us the way to the dispossession of our “self”. Let us not be afraid to embark on this path of truth: God is waiting for us there.

Lent is therefore a time that calls us to walk the path of humility, which is also a time of listening to what the Spirit of God tells us in conscience, to what He is urging us towards, in word and deed, within us and among us.

In his own way, Pope Francis addressed the same message to the young people gathered for the World Youth Day in Poland in 2016: “Following Jesus demands a good dose of courage, a readiness to trade in the sofa for a pair of walking shoes and to set out on new and uncharted paths. To blaze trails that open up new horizons capable of spreading joy, born of God’s love and wells up in your hearts with every act of mercy. To take the path of the “craziness” of our God, who teaches us to encounter him in the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the sick, the friend in trouble, the prisoner, the refugee and the migrant, and our neighbours who feel abandoned.” This is the secret we are called to experience. God is waiting for something from you, God is waiting for you. God… comes to open the doors of our lives, of our visions, of our eyes. God comes to open everything that encloses you. He invites you to dream, he wants you to see that with you the world can be different… if you put the best of yourself into it.”

Yes, entering the time of Lent is the time when we accept to walk in the footsteps of Christ to learn how to become BEARERS OF HOPE.