Kia tau te rangimarie ki a koutou,
St John Paul II often spoke about “Fixing our gaze on Christ” and Pope Francis has often expressed a similar thought.
The Lenten journey we have begun is all about “fixing our gaze on Christ.”
Lent is a time to hear again the call of Jesus to “repent and believe the good news.” The call to personal conversion is at the heart of the message of Jesus and is clearly at the heart of the ministry of Pope Francis. The Pope is very clear about the fact that ALL of us are constantly called to conversion of heart. In his first year as Pope, on the Feast of St Ignatius Loyola, he said in a homily: “The question ‘is Christ the centre of my life?’ is for us, for any of us, the question that cannot be taken for granted. It cannot be taken for granted because there is always the temptation to think that we are the centre; and when we put ourselves and not Christ at the centre, we err, we go astray”.
I think that sometimes the temptation for us is also to think that the call to personal conversion, to “fix our gaze on Christ” is for others and not for me. In this time of Lent when we are invited to pay closer attention to the Word of God, we know that is so we can personally focus on our relationship with Jesus, and not on all the other things that worry, distract or preoccupy us.
One of the strategies of Pope Francis in his work to reform the Church, and especially the Roman Curia (which was asked for in the Cardinals’ meetings leading up to his election) is to keep emphasizing that this is always about personal conversion. It is about a change of heart, putting Jesus at the centre of life and fixing our gaze on him. When Jesus is at the centre and the focus of our lives the relationships that we have with others improve, the things that worry us fall into place – even things like the question of Mass times, what will happen with “MY” parish, and how to cope with the many questions we are faced with today seems to fall into place.
The questions for Lent therefore are:
· How do I keep my gaze fixed on Jesus?
· How do I make Jesus the centre of my life?
· How do I focus on Jesus in the days ahead?
Naku Noa, +John