Every day, but particularly in Lent, Christians must face a struggle like the one that Christ underwent in the desert of Judea, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil, and then in Gethsemane, when he rejected the most severe temptation, accepting the Father's will to the very end. It is a spiritual battle waged against sin and, finally, against Satan. It is a struggle that involves the whole of the person and demands attentive and constant watchfulness.
St. Augustine remarks that those who want to walk in the love of God and in his mercy cannot be content with ridding themselves of grave and mortal sins but "should do the truth, also recognizing sins that are considered less grave..., and come to the light by doing worthy actions. Even less grave sins, if they are ignored, proliferate and produce death" (In Io. evang. 12, 13, 35).
Lent reminds us, therefore, that the Christian life is a never-ending combat in which the "weapons" of prayer, fasting, and penance are used. Fighting against evil, against every form of selfishness and hate, and dying to oneself to live in God is the ascetic journey that every disciple of Jesus is called to make with humility and patience, with generosity and perseverance. Following the divine Teacher in docility makes Christians witnesses and apostles of peace.
We might say that this inner attitude also helps us to highlight more clearly what response Christians should give to the violence that is threatening peace in the world. It should certainly not be revenge, nor hatred, nor even flight into a false spiritualism. The response of those who follow Christ is rather to take the path chosen by the One, who, in the face of the evils of his time and of all times, embraced the cross with determination, following the longer but more effective path of love. Following in his footsteps and united to him, we must all strive to oppose evil with good, falsehood with truth, and hatred with love.
- Homily, Ash Wednesday, March 1, 2006
From Lent with Pope Benedict XVI: Meditations for Every Day