· On Ash Wednesday, Benedict XVI introduces the journey ·
Today we entered the season of forty days. They are days that represent the salient moments of faith of the People of God, during which we are called to compare ourselves with the “ambivalence” that also characterizes “the condition of the Church on her journey through the wilderness of the world and of history”, until we reach “the new dawn created by God himself”. The Pope thus introduced the special period which the Church is preparing to live, looking forward to Easter. Lent was the central theme of the reflection he offered the faithful who today, 22 February, Ash Wednesday, took part in the weekly General Audience meeting in the Paul VI Hall.
Benedict XVI placed the timeliness of the meaning of those “forty-days”, which Christians are called to live from this day, in the continuous interweaving of past and present, of the time “of God's special closeness” but “also of temptation”, of contrasting the messianism of power, of success”, with the “messianism of love, of the gift of self” . The Pope chose first of all to underline the symbolic meaning of that number “forty”, which constantly recurs in the life of the Church, starting with the story of Noah. However, the Pontiff explained, it is not a number that represents a chronological period “structured by the total number of days”, but rather “expresses the time of waiting, of purification, of the return to the Lord, of the knowledge that God keeps his promises”. And in suggesting the episodes associated with the passing of this time that are recounted by Sacred Scripture, the Pope pointed out the many similarities experienced in the world today, in which the wilderness of Christ's temptations delineates the aridity, the poverty of life and values, the secularism and the materialistic culture, whose worldly horizon of existence hems the person in by removing every reference to the transcendent”. The Pope speaks of a sky that is dark because it is obscured “by clouds of selfishness, misunderstanding and deceit”. In spite of this the Christian certainty that “God can cause the living water that quenches thirst and refreshes to gush from even the hardest rock”, must sustain us on our journey towards “the bright world of God”.
St. Peter’s Square
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