WITNESSES OF THE REDEEMER:
In Solidarity for Mission to a Wounded World
Dear Confreres, Sisters, Redemptorist Associates, and Friends,
“Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit through the wilderness, being tempted there by the devil for forty days” (Luke 4:1)
With these words from the Gospel on the First Sunday of Lent, we enter into our “journey of conversion” in preparation for the celebration of the Paschal Triduum of Christ’s passion death and resurrection (Pope Francis, Message for Lent 2019). This journey of conversion is a constitutive part of our Redemptorist identity and vocation: we are called to a constant and continual process of conversion of heart and renewal of the mind (cf. Const. 40, 41). We make this journey not only as individual disciples but also as communities of missionaries (Const. 42).
This year, in his Message for Lent, Pope Francis offers us some reflections which are very much in harmony with our Sexennial Theme. He invites us to recognize and touch the wounds of the world which cry out for Redemption. To do so, we must also recognize the wounds in ourselves, in those to whom we are sent, and in the society in which we live. Pope Francis recognizes that the root of these wounds is sin, which “has disrupted our communion with God, with others, and with creation itself… this rupture of communion with God likewise undermines our harmonious relationship with the environment in which we are called to live, so that the garden has become a wilderness.” With Jesus, may the Spirit lead us into this wilderness to touch and heal these wounds which continue to afflict us all as well as our common home.
The Holy Father invites us to “embody the paschal mystery more deeply and concretely in [our] personal, family and social lives, above all by fasting, prayer, and almsgiving.” How can we, as members of the Redemptorist Family, engage in these three traditional Lenten practices with renewed meaning and hope?
This Lent, let us pray to see the world through the eyes of God, as God sees the world. To develop this contemplative gaze, we need to take time to be still and quiet and to ponder God’s word and God’s world. This appreciative gaze can deepen our solidarity with others, and with the wounded earth which cries for healing.
Fasting teaches us to resist the temptation to devour everything we desire. May our Lenten fast help us develop the self-discipline and control to treat the world, and others, with respect and care. Perhaps we can ‘fast’ from some activity which damages our environment – walking or taking public transport rather than a car; using resources such as water and energy more efficiently; recycling our waste more carefully.
Almsgiving is the traditional Christian virtue of sharing with others in need. It reminds us that we are called to be the ‘Iglesia in salida’, the ‘Church-going-forth’, as Pope Francis reminds us. This Lent, we give not only from our financial resources but let us try to share our talents and time, our service and creativity. We can care for a garden, welcome a refugee family, support an environmental cause, promote justice and peace, prepare for the Synod on the Amazon. Lent invites us to solidarity with this wounded world which is our common home.
May this Lent be a time of conversion and grace for all of us, and a time of healing and reconciliation for our wounded world. May Mary, Alphonsus, and all our blessed Redemptorist confreres walk with us on this journey into the Paschal Mystery.
In Christ our Redeemer,
Michael Brehl, C.SS.R.
(Rome, March 6, 2019, Prot. No 0000 071/2019)