Friday, February 24, 2012

The Third Day of Lent

The relationship between Church and State has, to be sure, thrust into the forefront of national discourse these recent weeks. As I mentioned earlier, I am sympathetic to the bishops' stance. Yet, on another level, these conversations leave me irritated and angry. Why? Because, as a nation, it seems we want more to talk about Christianity rather than actually living it out. 

Much talk this week has surrounded what we will "give up" for Lent, what it is that we will fast from. Today's reading from Isaiah, particularly for those of us who believe Lent to be a religiously-sanctioned opportunity to lose weight and calling the 'diet' a fast, should give us pause.

This, rather, is the fasting that I wish:
releasing those bound unjustly,
untying the thongs of the yoke; 
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.

Our GOP candidates can rail against the Obama administration on its so-called war against religion, but what are they doing that picks up on Isaiah's call? The text says nothing about refraining from sweets, nothing about giving up Facebook, nothing about about giving up alcohol. It tells us, rather, of what we should embrace: a way that is in keeping with the Culture of God's Kingdom, a culture wherein the dignity of every human being is recognized. The fast we are called into is not one that makes us look better in the mirror; it is, rather, a fast that takes us mirror the values of God and His Christ. 

On this third day of Lent, let us bear in mind that we are a pilgrim people. We are on "The Way" of the Christ, walking toward God's Kingdom and helping to build its foundation here and now. Rather than 'giving up' this Lent, let us consider what we might 'take on' in the name of God's Culture, what we might embrace and work toward as sisters and brothers, fellow pilgrims, and members of Christ's Body.  
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