My Problem with Lent
- Fasting: How can fasting connect us with others? One thing that comes to mind is that my attachment to all the things in my life may be distracting me from connecting with others. I can’t help but wonder if I am so comfortable that I am blinded to reality of the majority of the world that lives on less than $2 a day. Would intentionally making myself feel hunger through fasting help me to better appreciate their suffering and grow in solidarity with them? Would physical hunger help me realize my spiritual hunger and my dependence on God’s love? That would certainly be a different focus for me than fasting because I need to lose some weight.
- Almsgiving: I have some of the same questions about almsgiving as I do with fasting regarding my attachment to my possessions that seem to impact my ability to share well with others. But I am also wondering whether I need to look closer at how grateful I truly feel because I think that the sharing that Jesus talks about is not out of a sense of guilt or a feeling that I should do this, or even that this is how I earn salvation. Rather, the Gospel seems to speak of giving that is a more compassionate and joyful, even spontaneous, response arising from deep gratitude that comes from being aware that we are loved by God. After all, the sheep in the parable didn’t even know it was the Lord that they were feeding and visiting. The paradox of love is that it needs to be given away or it dies. Am I sharing the love I’ve experienced with those who really need some love in their lives? I don’t think giving some coins or a few dollar bills to a beggar on the street, who I don’t even make eye contact with, will do it.
- Prayer: At our Program last week we also reflected on prayer as an essential path of mission. If it’s truly God’s mission and not our mission, our only hope to stay on track is to stay in constant communication with God, through prayer. This is I know from almost 25 years of marriage: communication doesn’t happen if only one side is doing all the talking. So for me, the challenge is to do more listening, which in prayer means being quiet in contemplation and listening to what God is saying in the silence. My fear of listening to God is that he may tell me that he needs my help showing his love to others, especially people I may not like or feel comfortable being around.