Lent comes to us as a providential time to change course, to recover the ability to react to the reality of evil which always challenges us. Lent is to be lived as a time of conversion, as a time of renewal for individuals and communities, by drawing close to God and by trustfully adhering to the Gospel. In this way, it also allows us to look with new eyes at our brothers and sisters and their needs. That is why Lent is a favourable time to convert to the love of God and neighbour; a love that knows how to make its own the Lord’s attitude of gratuitousness and mercy — who “became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich” (cf. 2 Corinthians 8:9). In meditating on the central mysteries of the Faith, the Passion, Cross and Resurrection of Christ, we shall realize that the immeasurable gift of the Redemption has been granted to us through God’s free initiative.
Let us give thanks to God for the mystery of his crucified love; authentic faith, conversion and openness of heart to the brethren: these are the essential elements for living the season of Lent. On this journey, we want to invoke with special trust the protection and help of the Virgin Mary: may she, who was the first to believe in Christ, accompany us in our days of intense prayer and penance, so that we might come to celebrate, purified and renewed in spirit, the great Paschal mystery of her Son.
I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims present at today’s Audience, including those from Malta, Denmark, Sweden, Indonesia, Canada and the United States. May the Lenten journey we begin today bring us to Easter with hearts purified and renewed by the grace of the Holy Spirit. Upon you and your families I invoke joy and peace in Christ our Redeemer!
I address a special thought to young people, to the sick and to newlyweds. Today, Ash Wednesday, begins the Lenten journey. Dear young people, may you live out this time of grace in an authentic spirit of penance, as a return to the Father who awaits us all with open arms. Dear sick, I encourage you to offer your sufferings for the conversion of all those who live far from God; and may you, dear newlyweds, courageously and generously build your families on the firm rock of divine love.
Acknowledgment: We thank the Vatican Publisher for allowing us to publish the Homilies of Pope Francis I, so that it could be accessed by more people all over the world; as a source of God’s encouragements to all of us.
The MH370 Aircraft which disappeared on 8 March 2014 around 1:20am is still declared missing after many Countries have involved in searches round the clock.
The Malaysia Authorities announced today that it could be hijacking.
Experts have been analyzing flight, satellite & radar records to locate the plane location and many others have intensified their searches in the South China Sea, Indian Ocean etc.
The intense mental distress & suffering of the families of the missing flight passengers have roused much sympathy around the World and all are puzzled why till this date the missing aircraft is still not found …
What can the rest of us do now to help to improve the situation?
Let’s humble ourselves & pray intently to our God regardless of our different religions and beg Him to cooperate with us in this search & rescue mission. Facts have now shown that our human intelligence and resources have proved futile … Let us keep our peace & offer our burdens and distress to Him. Know that our Creator is in control of everything and let’s not lose hope. If He is the Creator of the entire Universe including each and every one of us; all for His own purposes, surely He will take good care of us as our Faithful Daddy God.
This is His message to us: See Sirach 2 > Encouragements-100
“1 My child, if you aspire to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for an ordeal.
2 Be sincere of heart, be steadfast, and do not be alarmed when disaster comes.
3 Cling to him and do not leave him, so that you may be honoured at the end of your days.
4 Whatever happens to you, accept it, and in the uncertainties of your humble state, be patient,
5 since gold is tested in the fire, and the chosen in the furnace of humiliation.
6 Trust him and he will uphold you, follow a straight path and hope in him.
7 You who fear the Lord, wait for his mercy; do not turn aside, for fear you fall.
8 You who fear the Lord, trust him, and you will not be robbed of your reward.
9 You who fear the Lord, hope for those good gifts of his, everlasting joy and mercy.
10 Look at the generations of old and see: whoever trusted in the Lord and was put to shame? Or whoever, steadfastly fearing him, was forsaken? Or whoever called to him and was ignored?
11 For the Lord is compassionate and merciful, he forgives sins and saves in the time of distress.”
15 March 2014
First Reading: Extracted from the book of Genesis 2:7-9, 3:1-7
The Lord God fashioned man of dust from the soil.
Then he breathed into his nostrils a breath of life, and thus man became a living being.
The Lord God planted a garden in Eden which is in the east, and there he put the man he had fashioned.
The Lord God caused to spring up from the soil every kind of tree, enticing to look at and good to eat, with the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the middle of the garden.
Now the serpent was the most subtle of all the wild beasts that the Lord God had made. It asked the woman, ‘Did God really say you were not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?’
The woman answered the serpent, ‘We may eat the fruit of the trees in the garden. But of the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden God said, “You must not eat it, nor touch it, under pain of death.”
‘ Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘No! You will not die! God knows in fact that on the day you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, knowing good and evil.’
The woman saw that the tree was good to eat and pleasing to the eye, and that it was desirable for the knowledge that it could give. So she took some of its fruit and ate it. She gave some also to her husband who was with her, and he ate it.
Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they realised that they were naked. So they sewed fig-leaves together to make themselves loin-cloths.
Responsorial: Psalm 51:3-6,12-14,17
Have mercy on us, O Lord, for we have sinned.
Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness. In your compassion blot out my offence.
O wash me more and more from my guilt and cleanse me from my sin.
My offences truly I know them; my sin is always before me
Against you, you alone, have I sinned; what is evil in your sight I have done.
A pure heart create for me, O God, put a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence, nor deprive me of your holy spirit.
Give me again the joy of your help; with a spirit of fervour sustain me,
O Lord, open my lips and my mouth shall declare your praise.
Second Reading: Extracted from the letter of Saint Paul to the Romans 5:12-19
Sin entered the world through one man, and through sin death, and thus death has spread through the whole human race because everyone has sinned.
Sin existed in the world long before the Law was given. There was no law and so no one could be accused of the sin of ‘law-breaking’, yet death reigned over all from Adam to Moses, even though their sin, unlike that of Adam, was not a matter of breaking a law.
Adam prefigured the One to come, but the gift itself considerably outweighed the fall.
If it is certain that through one man’s fall so many died, it is even more certain that divine grace, coming through the one man, Jesus Christ, came to so many as an abundant free gift.
The results of the gift also outweigh the results of one man’s sin: for after one single fall came judgement with a verdict of condemnation, now after many falls comes grace with its verdict of acquittal.
If it is certain that death reigned over everyone as the consequence of one man’s fall, it is even more certain that one man, Jesus Christ, will cause everyone to reign in life who receives the free gift that he does not deserve, of being made righteous.
Again, as one man’s fall brought condemnation on everyone, so the good act of one man brings everyone life and makes them justified.
As by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous.
Gospel Reading: Extracted from the holy Gospel according to Matthew 4:1-11
Jesus was led by the Spirit out into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, after which he was very hungry, and the tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to turn into loaves.’ But he replied, ‘Scripture says:
Man does not live on bread alone
but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’
The devil then took him to the holy city and made him stand on the parapet of the Temple. ‘If you are the Son of God’ he said ‘throw yourself down; for scripture says:
He will put you in his angels’ charge,
and they will support you on their hands
in case you hurt your foot against a stone.’
Jesus said to him, ‘Scripture also says:
You must not put the Lord your God to the test.’
Next, taking him to a very high mountain, the devil showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour. ‘I will give you all these’ he said, ‘if you fall at my feet and worship me.’ Then Jesus replied, ‘Be off, Satan! For scripture says:
You must worship the Lord your God,
and serve him alone.’
Then the devil left him, and angels appeared and looked after him.
It was 1st Sunday of Lent on 9 March 2014.
The Readings that were read in the Eucharistic Celebrations all over the world on the same day are shown above.
We have extracted the Homilies Blessed Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI & Pope Francis I based on the aforesaid Readings to share with you, so that you could similarly be encouraged:
PASTORAL VISIT TO ST RAYMOND NONNATUS PARISH IN ROME
HOMILY OF JOHN PAUL II
Sunday, 21 February 2003
1. "Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil" (cf. Matthew 4:1).
At the beginning of the Lenten season, the liturgy shows us Jesus grappling with the tempter in the wilderness. The Son of God, severely tested by the devil, triumphs over the three basic temptations that beset every human life: concupiscence, exploitation of God and idolatry.
Satan's three deceitful suggestions: "If you are the Son of God ..." contrast with the solemn proclamation of the heavenly Father at the time of the baptism in the Jordan: "This is my beloved Son" (Matthew 3:17). They are a test, then, which deeply affects the Saviour's mission. The victory won by Christ at the beginning of his public life foretells his definitive triumph over sin and death which will be achieved in the paschal mystery.
By his Death and Resurrection, Jesus will not only remove the sin of our first parents but will impart to each man and woman the superabundance of God's grace. This is what the Apostle Paul recalls in the second reading we have just heard: "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man's obedience many will be made righteous" (Romans 5:19).