Pope Francis’ 2024 Lenten message: ‘Lent is a season of conversion, a time of freedom’


Pope Francis has centered his Lenten message for 2024 on the Book of Exodus, choosing “Through the Desert God Leads Us to Freedom” as its main theme to encourage the faithful that the season is a journey from bondage to spiritual renewal and freedom.

The pope framed this reflection on the departure of the Israelites from Egypt, a story that not only represents the journey from bondage to emancipation but also of revelation and spiritual freedom.

“When our God reveals himself, his message is always one of freedom,” the pope said.

The Holy Father went on to note that this process “is a demanding one” and that “it is not answered straight away. It has to mature as part of a journey.”

“We realize how true this is at those moments when we feel hopeless, wandering through life like a desert and lacking a promised land as our destination. Lent is the season of grace in which the desert can become once more — in the words of the prophet Hosea — the place of our first love,” the pope observed.

The Vatican published posters to promote the pope's 2024 Lenten message, “Through the desert, God leads us to freedom.”. Credit: Vatican Media
The Vatican published posters to promote the pope’s 2024 Lenten message, “Through the desert, God leads us to freedom.”. Credit: Vatican Media

Pope Francis also underscored the centrality of the desert in the New Testament, observing that on the first Sunday of Lent, we are reminded that Jesus “was driven into the desert by the Spirit in order to be tempted in freedom.”

“The desert is the place where our freedom can mature in a personal decision not to fall back into slavery. In Lent, we find new criteria of justice and a community with which we can press forward on a road not yet taken,” the pope added.

Tying the season of Lent to the setting of the desert, the pope noted that the penitential season cannot be looked at just as an “abstract journey” but must, instead, be “concrete,” and this shift is predicated upon our capacity to “open our eyes to reality.”

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