The invitation to be converted resounds strongly at the beginning of Lent. And the liturgy of the day, Pope Francis said, places this exhortation in the context of three realities: man, God, and the journey. The reality of man is that of choosing between good and evil: God has made us free, the choice is ours,” the Pope said, but He does not leave it to us alone; rather, he points out the path of goodness with the Commandments. Then there is the reality of God: “for the disciples, it was difficult to understand” the path of the Cross of Jesus. “Because God has taken all of human reality, except sin. There is no God without Christ. A God without Christ, ‘disincarnate,’ is a god that is not real”:
“The reality of God is God made Christ, for us. To save us. And when we distance ourselves from this, from this reality, and we distance ourselves from the Cross of Christ, from the truth of the wounds of the Lord, we distance ourselves also from love, from the charity [carità] of God, from salvation and going along an ideological street from God, far away: [This] is not God who came to us and made Himself close to us to save us, and died for us. This [God made Christ for us, to save us] is the reality of God.”
The Pope cited the dialogue between an agnostic and a believer, recorded by a French writer of the last century:
“The agnostic of good will asked the believer, ‘But how can I… for me, the problem is how Christ is God: I can’t understand this. How is Christ God?’ And the believer responded, ‘Eh, for me this is not a problem. The problem would be if God would not have been made Christ.’ This is the reality of God: God made Christ, God made flesh; and this is the foundation of the works of mercy. The wounds of our brothers are the wounds of Christ, they are the wounds of God, because God is made Christ. The second reality. We cannot live Lent without this reality. We must convert, not to an abstract God, but to the concrete God who is made Christ.”
Finally, there is the third reality, that of the journey. Jesus says, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”:
“The reality of the journey is that of Christ: following Christ, doing the will of the Father, as He did, taking up the daily crosses and denying oneself in order to follow Christ. Not doing what I want, but what Jesus wants; following Jesus. And He says that on this street we lose our life, in order to gain it back later; it is a continual loss of life, loss of doing what I want, loss of comforts, being always on the path of Jesus who was at the service of others, [who was] was in adoration of God. That is the right path.”
“The only sure path,” Pope Francis concluded, “is following Christ crucified, the scandal of the Cross. And these three realities – man, God, and the journey – “are the compass of the Christian, which will not allow us to take the wrong path.