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First Sunday of Lent

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Dear Brothers and Sisters, Fiat!

This first Sunday of Lent, the Gospel recalls the themes of temptation, conversion and the Good News. Mark the Evangelist writes: “The Spirit immediately drove Jesus out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan” (cf. Mk 1:12-13). Jesus goes into the desert to prepare himself for his mission in the world. He does not need conversion, but as a man, he must go through this trial, both for himself, to obey the Father’s will, and for us, to give us the grace to overcome temptation. This preparation consists in the battle against the evil spirit, that is, against the devil. For us too, Lent is a time of spiritual “contest”, of spiritual struggle: we are called to confront the Evil One through prayer in order to be able, with God’s help, to overcome him in our daily life. We know that evil unfortunately is at work in our existence and around us, where there is violence, rejection of the other, closure, war, injustice. All of these are the work of the Evil One, of evil.

Immediately following the temptations in the desert, Jesus begins to preach the Gospel, that is, the Good News, the second word. The first was “temptation”, the second, “Good News”. And this Good News demands man’s conversion — the third word — and faith. He proclaims: “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand”; and then he cautions, “repent, and believe in the gospel” (v. 15), that is, believe in this Good News that the kingdom of God is at hand. In our lives, we always need to convert — every day! —, and the Church invites us to pray for this. In fact, we are never sufficiently orientated towards God and we must continually direct our minds and our hearts towards him. In order to do this, we need to have the courage to reject all that takes us off course, the false values which deceive us, by subtly flattering our ego. Rather, we must entrust ourselves to the Lord, to his goodness and to his project of love for each of us. Lent is a time of repentance, yes, but it is not a time of sorrow! It is a time of penance, but it is not a time of sorrow, of mourning. It is a joyous and serious commitment to strip ourselves of our selfishness, of our “old man”, and to renew ourselves according to the grace of our Baptism.

Only God can give us true happiness: it is useless to waste our time seeking it elsewhere, in wealth, in pleasure, in power, in a career.... The Kingdom of God is the realization of all our aspirations because at the same time, it is the salvation of mankind and the glory of God. On this first Sunday of Lent, we are invited to listen carefully and to hear Jesus’ appeal to convert, and to believe in the Gospel. We are exhorted to begin the journey towards Easter with commitment, to embrace evermore the grace of God who wishes to transform the world into a kingdom of justice, peace and fraternity..

In the passage of June 25, 1928, Jesus explains to Luisa the purpose of His  going into the desert. Luisa was continuing her round in the Divine Fiat, and in following Jesus on the way to the desert, she thought to herself: ‘And why did Jesus take the way of the desert? There were no souls to be converted there, but profound solitude, while it was souls that He was searching for.’ But while she was thinking of this, Jesus, moving in her interior, told her that company breaks the pain and diminishes it, while isolation concentrates it, doubles it and makes it harsher. Jesus wanted to go into the desert to feel in his Humanity all the harshness of the isolation that her Divine Will had suffered for many centuries on the part of creatures. Jesus’ Humanity was to ascend into the divine order and descend into the human order to be able to enclose the pains of both one and the other, and, taking upon Himself entirely the painful part that divided man and God, have men cling once again to the embrace - to the kiss of their Creator.

But the purpose of Jesus’ going into the desert was not only this. His adorable Majesty, in forming the Creation, established that every place was to be populated by inhabitants, and that the earth was to be extremely fertile and rich with abundant plants, in such a way that all would have in abundance. As man sinned, he drew upon himself the indignation of divine justice, and the earth remained deserted, infertile, and in many places depopulated – image of those sterile families in which there is no laughter, no feast, no harmony, because, without children, there is no one who breaks the monotony of the two spouses, and the nightmare of isolation weighs on their hearts, leading them to sadness. On the other hand, where there are children, there is always something to do, to say, and occasions to celebrate. Such was the human family. If we look at the sky we see that it is populated with stars,; the earth was to be the echo of the sky, crammed with inhabitants, and it was to produce so much as to render everyone rich and happy.

As man withdrew from God’s Will, his lot changed; and Jesus wanted to go into the desert in order to call back the blessings of His Celestial Father and, by calling His Will to reign again, restore the earth, populate it everywhere and fecundate it, in such a way that the earth will produce more seeds, and more beautiful ones, such as to increase it a hundredfold, rendering it more fecund and of radiant beauty. How many great things will the Kingdom of the Divine Fiat do. So much so, that all the elements are all in waiting – the sun, the wind, the sea, the earth and all Creation – to deliver from their womb all the goods and effects which they contain. In fact, since the Divine Will that dominates them does not reign in the midst of creatures, they do not put out all the goods they enclose within themselves, giving them only what they have to as alms, and as to servants. So, the earth has not produced all the seeds; the sun, not finding all the seeds, does not produce all the effects and goods it possesses; and so with all the rest. This is why all await the Kingdom of the Fiat – to show creatures how rich they are, and how many admirable things the Creator has placed in them for love of the ones who were to be the children of His Will.

May Lent be a favorable time for us to encounter God, but also for the purification of our beliefs and the sober style with which we are called to relate to others.

don Marco
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