Yesterday in the dining room at St Joe’s we celebrated what Rachael said was the most hilarious Ash Wednesday service she’d ever attended. I forgot to distribute the ashes after the homily, one of the guys offered as his suggestion for ways to observe Lent that we go to the library and get all the free stuff we can, and at the end, Rachael got a fit of the giggles. Wonder why!
I’m glad we had a joyful Ash Wednesday Mass because I think Lent is great. It’s a chance to strip down, get rid of whatever is keeping us from being our truest and best selves, and grow closer to God. Lent gives me the kind of feeling that I get from cleaning out a closet. Doesn’t it feel great when you get rid of a lot of stuff you don’t need, and things are clean and orderly again?
This Lent, as we practice the disciplines of fasting, prayer and almsgiving that hopefully help us to grow and to be more fully alive, I invite you to look outside yourself and to be aware of the ways that we as a society need to grow. Look at our dependence on oil, and what that is doing to our planet, both in destruction of the environment and in the wars in the middle east. Look at the way that we in the first world use so much of the earth’s resources, and the price people in other parts of the world pay for our excess. And with the awareness we have at St Romero’s because of our migrant ministry, perhaps this Lent is a good time to examine and work to change the terrible system that has people working ten hour days, six days a week, for heartbreakingly little money, terrible living conditions, and on top of all that, getting punished for being here. Along with our personal repentance and turning to God, let’s look at how we as a society need to turn around.
Following Jesus is about a whole lot more than feeling good about our own relationship with God. We’ve got to transform the world. Like Dorothy Day said, the whole problem with the world is our acceptance of this filthy, rotten system. Let’s repent that acceptance, and work for change. Here’s God’s word on that:
“Is not this the fast I choose:
To loose the bonds of injustice,
To undo the thongs of the yoke,
To let the oppressed go free,
And to break every yoke?”
A blessed Lent to you. May it be a time of life, growth and transformation!
Love and light to all
Here are some ideas for Lenten reading:
**** “The Irresistible Revolution” **** by Shane Claiborne. Also“Jesus for President.”
“Jesus and Nonviolence” by Walter Wink
“Becoming Who You Are” by James Martin
if you’d like some meaty Biblical scholarship, “Come Out, My People!” by Wes Howard-Brook or “Parables as Subversive Speech” by William Herzog
and finally, an excellent and very readable book by one of the leading Black theologians of our time, James Cone, on one of the most terrible and most overlooked occurrences in American history: “The Cross and the Lynching Tree.”
Have a blessed Lent, and come visit us, any Sunday!
Oscar Romero Church
An Inclusive Community of Liberation, Justice and Joy
Worshiping in the Catholic Tradition
Mass: Sundays, 11
St Joseph's House of Hospitality, 402 South Ave, Rochester NY 14620