Alleluia! He is risen!
As we celebrate the joy of Easter, we can look back together over the 40 days of Lent and reflect on how they’ve changed us. On our journey to the celebration of the risen Savior, Lent gave us the opportunity to consciously be open to the Spirit and focus on giving back to those less fortunate among us.
Over the past weeks, we have heard many examples of this kind of self-giving from our Holy Father in Rome. By now, the stories are familiar to many – as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio took the bus to get around town, stayed at a simple rectory rather than a grand apartment, and cooked his own meals. Pope Francis has already impressed upon us the importance of a life devoted to service of the poor through his witness to step beyond the comfortable and familiar to pursue compassion and heroic charity.
At Catholic Charities USA, we shared and collected stories throughout the season of Lent through our #LentGiving campaign. If you’re on Facebook or Twitter like me, you have probably seen the hashtag #LentGiving, where people all across the nation are sharing their stories of “giving up” their time or treasure during this season of renewal. A woman in Baltimore, Maryland shared her story of bringing people together to give back:
“During Lent, I coordinate a team of women to cook and serve dinner with me at a day shelter for women which serves 3 meals a day to 80-90 women. This facility provides laundry facilities, hot showers, mail delivery and so much more. It is richly rewarding to share what you have with those who are struggling and we thank God that we are able to do it.”
This shared experience in service to others is truly an example of the essence of the Lenten season – giving up your time and talent in an effort to serve others first. Even though Lent has come to a close, we are now called to work to keep that increased spirit of service and care for others foremost in our lives the rest of the year. The joy of Easter provides us an opportunity to rejoice, reflect, and re-commit ourselves to this openness to others.
We need only look to the example set by our Holy Father for renewed inspiration for this task. Pope Francis chose not to perform the traditional Holy Thursday washing of the feet in a basilica, instead travelling to the Casal del Marmo juvenile detention center, following our Gospel call to feed the hungry and visit the imprisoned. His commitment to simplicity, service, and solidarity are a remarkable witness to the fundamental truth that every man, woman, and child, is made in God’s likeness and is worthy of our respect and care.
Pope Francis’ example is one we are called to live out in our everyday lives, giving of ourselves to others in need. This Easter, let us rejoice in the resurrection and recommit ourselves to making service to others an integral part of who we are.