[2 Chronicles 16: 14-16; Ephesians 2: 4-10; John 3: 14-21]
Fourth Week of Lent – how is it going? Even if not so well, remember it is never too late to begin focusing on prayer, fasting and giving to the poor. This may seem overwhelming or just another list of things to do, but, in reality, Lent gives a space to gain perspective on our life by looking at the key relationships which make us who we are: God (through prayer); fasting (our relationship to creation and how we use the goods of the earth) and giving to the poor (other people [economically poor, but also friends and family who feel alone, unloved and worthless]. Let us think about these three actions for a minute during at this point in Lent.
Prayer is not about whining- telling God what we want or presenting a laundry list of problems- but placing ourselves in a space to both listen and speak. First, we need to listen to God speaking in our hearts which we can do through reading the Bible, rosary recitation or even silently staring at a crucifix. Then speaking to God from our heart about our hurts, desires, dreams, and asking for help, guidance and protection. As in today’s Gospel reading (where we are told to look up to the Risen Christ) in daily life we need to discipline ourselves to look up to Christ, especially when suffering.
Fasting- not a popular theme for us- as our modern pragmatism dominates the age. How does not eating food a day (or skipping a meal) or forgoing the internet for a day or fasting from looking at our cell phones when at meals with family help anyone? Fasting is not about accomplishments but tempering our desires to slow down our body and mind to be more open to hearing God. Fasting also teaches us our fragility and reminds us that through God we can endure more than we thought possible. Lastly, fasting can allow us to experience a taste of the hunger which dominates the lives of billions of our brothers and sisters.
Alms-giving, which is the easiest one to understand, as money is necessary by people and organization who assist the poor. During Lent, the Church calls us to share our money with those who have less than we do. This is done neither to buy off the poor or assuage our consciences for a life of excess, but in recognition that we are all brothers and sisters. The sufferings of the poor are our sufferings. While mostly we see this as helping the economically poor, others would broaden this out so we ask how we help/witness to those who are unloved, alone, and feeling hopeless.
Prayer, fasting and almsgivings are central to Lent and even at this time it is never too late to begin to act. Mission Doctors need your prayer and the Mission Doctors can certainly use any donations.
God bless and happy Lent!