February 20, Friday
Are we who we say we are?
Our rucksacks are packed, our walking shoes and water bottles wait by the front door; we’ve marked our foreheads with ashes and set our eyes firmly on the prize: Jesus. We’re ready to depart, but-- at the last possible moment-- new instructions arrive. A clarification regarding penance, courtesy of the prophet Isaiah, who advises us to leave the sackcloth and ashes at home. Isaiah warns us, in no uncertain terms, that God expects a different kind of penance, a penance characterized by action, not piety. On this particular pilgrimage, our acts of penance must ease the hunger and suffering of others, promote freedom and justice and bring about the Heavenly Kingdom.
This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly,untying the shackles; setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; clothing the naked when you see them and not turning your back on your own.What gives value to fasting is not our growling bellies but the people who eat because of our growling bellies. What gives value to almsgiving is not the satisfaction of a Christian duty completed, but the liberation that springs forth whenever we reject the claim that possessions make on our soul.
Almighty and ever living God,
you invite us deeper into your world, your people, your Lent.
May this time be one of outward focus;
seeking you in those we often ignore.
Help us live a Lent focused on freedom, generosity, and
Give us hearts hungry to serve you
and those who need what we have to give.
This is me, a sinner on whom the Lord has turned his gaze. And this is what I said when they asked me if I would accept
my election as pontiff. I am a sinner, but I trust in the infinite mercy and patience of our Lord Jesus Christ, and I accept in a spirit of penance.
: Pope Francis
Pour mercy over your fasting so that it can give you its fruit: fasting runs dry in the desert of mercilessness. Mercy fecundates fasting the way rain fecundates the ground.
: Jonas Abib
I have always welcomed the perennials
but today I celebrate weeds. The arrival of
horse-tails, their primitive vigor thrusting up
under the fence as if the Third Day of Creation
were just yesterday. In penance, as redemption,
I will begin to touch the earth more lightly,
remembering to walk barefoot in the soft
forest so that I make no bruit or break.
: Luci Shaw
Keep Your Eyes on the Prize (Seeger/Springsteen)
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