As we continue on this Lenten Journey and countdown to the canonization of Blessed John Paul II, it is good to reflect on the words of the late Holy Father and allow them to guide us through this season.
In his first Ash Wednesday homily as Pope, Blessed John Paul II referred to Lent as “a stern time”:
In this period, divine truths must speak to our hearts with particular forcefulness. We must meet our human experience, our conscience. The first truth, proclaimed today, reminds man of his transience, recalls death, which is for each of us the end of earthly life.
Every person’s life has a limit, and during Lent we enter into a time of meditation on that limit. We place ourselves in the desert, detaching ourselves from things that distract us from our final end. We meditate on death, and the death of Christ in particular.
It is a stern time, yes, but one that helps us to embrace the joy of the Resurrection:
Jesus Christ accepted death as a sign of obedience to God, in order to restore to the human spirit the full gift of the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ accepted death to overcome sin. Jesus Christ accepted death to overcome death in the very essence of its perennial mystery.
With St. Paul, Blessed John Paul II calls us to collaborate with our God who “accepted death to overcome sin”:
We are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake, he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor 5:20-21).
So Lent is also a time of conversion, a time of turning back towards the One who made us and accepting the grace He pours out over us.
Jesus reveals this grace to us throughout Lent, and during this period Blessed John Paul II calls us to be united with Him “in order that his preaching and service may be even more fruitful.”
From our deserts this Lent, let us turn our hearts toward God, who loves us and gave up everything so that we could be one with Him.
Blessed John Paul II, Pray for Us!