Thus says the Lord:
If you remove from your midst oppression,
false accusation and malicious speech;
if you bestow your bread on the hungry
and satisfy the afflicted;
Then light shall rise for you in the darkness,
and the gloom shall become for you like midday;
Then the LORD will guide you always
and give you plenty even on the parched land.
As I hinted at yesterday, I do think that Lent is a time for purging, or un-cluttering, our lives to make space for God's grace. The inbox of our heart is so easily cluttered with the SPAM of the world - offers, ads, enticements - none of which holds the key to the lasting happiness we so desperately long for. We need to sort out just which offers bear God's authentic self-offer and focus on those -- leave SPAM for the junkmail folder.
In today's reading, we see this two-fold movement of accepting God's invitation to friendship. There is a movement to clear away those things that are anti-God, counter-Kingdom, and then a movement to act as God acts: feeding the hungry and soothing the afflicted. I think these are the necessary movements of Lent: one is a removing of obstacles, of discerning what we really need to be the disciples we so desire to become, and responding to God's friendship by being God's grace in the world.
I can't help but to think that so many of us are spiritual hoarders. We accumulate so much from our daily lives, so many things that we refuse to be free of. Resentment, anger, wounds, the past: we fill up our hearts and lives with so much stuff that we become paralyzed. Slowly the rooms of our heart are filled, it becomes harder to navigate the hallways, and we become entombed in a crypt of our own devising. All of the stuff we thought so important, so valuable, so much of who-we-are...the stuff that once promised life and happiness now becomes a dust-gathering sarcophagus.
Lent is the time when we, even if painfully, begin to let go of this unnecessary stuff in order to see what we truly need to live. Over the long journey of Lent, we work to shake ourselves of the things that keep us from being the women and men we most want to be and we work to live as God is calling us to live. In freeing ourselves from stuff, we are freed for love. As the mountains of stuff, hoarded over the years, diminish, the light of day will break in and show us the way.