The beginning of the Lenten time waiting for Easter
Today it is first day of the Lenten season, which will bring us to the Easter Triduum after 40 days, the heart of the liturgical year. In the Ash Wednesday, the Church makes a simple gesture that commemorates the fragility of the human nature, the fact that we are creatures. In the Christian view, being creatures, though, means not only precariety, a sort of “negative” connotation characterizing the human beings, their nature and potential. Being creatures implies the existence of a Creator God, who loved us “since when we were in the maternal womb” and looks after us. Certainly a Creator God, but first of all our Father. The “Credo”, the profession of the Christian faith says: “We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth”. It is probably not a coincidence that God be mentioned first as a Father and then as a Creator and that the word “almighty” (which can also be scary and associated to a sort of super-power that is not necessarily good) is combined to the “role” of God as a father and not as the creator. God is a father that can do everything for his children, by virtue of His love for them. In this human creature that is desired, loved and preserved by God, who is willing to do everything for His creatures up to even die to save them, the Holy Spirit lives. The Spirit – “the Lord, the giver of life”, the love between Father and the Son – will be with us as a consolator everyday “until the end of the age.”
Let us then live this Lenten time with hope, in reflection, meditation and prayer, remembering to be fragile creatures but, most importantly, to be loved and preserved by God, our Father. This can help us not to live this path in a fearful and sterile penitence, but as a time for conversion to the Gospel – the joyful news of the resurrection of Christ that changed radically and forever our life. Actually, not only the life of our own, but that of others, because the Gospel is “contagious”.
It is very meaningful what is last year Pope Francis said in his homily during the Mass of Ash Wednesday: “Returning to the Lord ‘with all your heart’ means to begin the journey not of a superficial and transitory conversion, but rather of a spiritual itinerary with regard to the most intimate place of our person. The heart is, indeed, the seat of our feelings, the centre in which our decisions, our attitudes mature. That ‘return to me with all your heart’ involves not only individuals, but is extended to the community as a whole. It is a convocation directed to everyone: ‘gather the people. Sanctify the congregation; assemble the elders; gather the children, even nursing infants. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her chamber‘”.