|St. Andrew's Episcopal Cathedral- Honolulu|
Our Holy Father, Pope Francis encouraged the Catholic faithful to welcome the season of Lent, to “begin our journey of hope with joy.”
Lent is a season of hope, the Pontiff explained, because we look forward to the Resurrection, confident that with God’s help we can share in Christ’s victory. However, while Jesus has paid the price of our redemption, “that doesn’t mean that He did everything and we don’t have to do anything,” the Holy Father cautioned. He rejected the notion that since Jesus died on the Cross, “we will go to heaven in a carriage.”
The penitential season of Lent, the Pope said, is like the 40 years that the Hebrew people spent in the desert after their exodus from Egypt. Each day, with its particular obstacles, presents a challenge to grow closer to God.
The Scriptures tell of a tormented journey that symbolically lasted forty years, the time span of a generation, and that difficulties and obstacles represented continuous temptations to regret Egypt and to turn back. But, he said, the Lord stayed close to the people who finally arrived in the Promised Land guided by Moses.
Their journey, he explained, was undertaken ‘in hope’, and in this sense “it is an ‘exodus’ out of slavery and into freedom.
“Every step, every effort, every test, every fall and every recovery has a sense within God’s design for salvation, as He wants life – not death – and joy – not pain – for His people” he said.
The Pope said Easter is Jesus’ own exodus, his passover from death to life, in which we participate through our rebirth in Baptism.
He said that by following Christ along the way of the Cross, we share in his victory over sin and death; he explained that in order to open this passage for us, Jesus had to cast off his glory, he had to humble himself, he had to be obedient until death on the cross.
“This doesn’t mean that he did everything and we don’t have to do anything” he said.
The Pope went on to highlight that it doesn’t mean “he went through the cross and we will go to heaven in a carriage.” That is not how it works.
He explained that our salvation is Jesus’ gift, but it is part of a love story and requires our ‘yes’ and our participation.
With a heart open to this horizon, the Pope concluded, let us enter into Lent feeling that we belong to the holy people of God: “may we begin our journey of hope with joy.