Lent is intended to be a time for self-reflection and repentance before the celebration of Christ’s resurrection – a spring cleaning, if you will, before the joy of Easter. This time of preparation and purification has Biblical roots – In the synoptic Gospels, we hear about Jesus’ solitary journey to the desert for a period of forty days before entering his public ministry.
Our own forty-day journey to Easter can be an opportunity for us to reflect on our call to serve as public witnesses of God’s love for every one of our brothers and sisters, particularly those on the margins of society. Our holy father, Pope Francis, reflects on our role as missionaries of charity and justice in his message for Lent: “What does this invitation to poverty, a life of evangelical poverty, mean for us today?”
This notion of “evangelical poverty” may sound strange, but Pope Francis goes on to explain that we are invited to partake in a life of radical simplicity and humility to better serve those suffering from material and spiritual poverty. By emptying ourselves of our attachment to the things of this world, we are able to meet others in their need with open hearts and understanding. A spirit of evangelical poverty enables us to go into the world and see the dignity and worth of everyone we come in contact with, especially those with no one else to turn to.
There is no better time in the year than Lent to undertake a period of self-reflection, to examine our own attachments and what is preventing us from more deeply being servants bringing the message of hope and love to all of God’s children. In these forty days, we have the opportunity to strengthen our resolve to innovating, educating, and acting to bring about a society that provides opportunity for everyone to achieve their full potential. As our Holy Father says:
“The Church offers her help, her diakonia [servant ministry], in meeting these needs and binding these wounds which disfigure the face of humanity. In the poor and outcast we see Christ’s face; by loving and helping the poor, we love and serve Christ.”
As Catholic Charities agencies, we are the tangible expression of this commitment to bind wounds and alleviate injustice. Let us use this Lenten season as an opportunity to let go of whatever prevents us from fully following our Lord’s call, and, with both arms free, fully embrace what it means to love and serve the poor and marginalized in our community.
Photo courtesy Flickr.