Lenten greetings! A year ago, it was hard to even imagine 2021. So much was still unknown about COVID-19 and our society looked at it as something other people were dealing with, but that hadn’t impacted many of us just yet. Although there is finally some light at the end of the tunnel with the roll out of the vaccine, the weight of 500,000 deaths should hit home now.
During the last month, I have been reflecting on how best to prepare myself for this Lenten season. The three foci remain the same: almsgiving, fasting and prayer, and yet, this year, those three do not seem like enough. This year, the glory of Easter is even more powerful considering the pain and suffering of the past fifteen months. So, in an attempt to make my Lenten journey a more meaningful expression of my devotion, I took inspiration from millions of examples around the world: frontline workers, healthcare workers, distribution employees, teachers, loving family members and friends.
My Lenten promise this year is one of service, to put others before myself more often. Service means to engage in an act of helpful activity, to give aid to someone else. Service can be an act of charity, but in general, if means anything done out of love or for the good of others. Thomas Aquinas says love is to” will the good of the other.”
There are many ways we can all work together to serve the larger society and to share our faith. As Jesus says in Matthew 25:35-40,
“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous[p] will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’”
The OLBS parish continues to offer comfort to those in mourning and food for the hungry; those that come to the church know what Christianity means by our words and actions. All are encouraged to follow our ministries online and are welcome to participate as well.
Perhaps the most important works of service right now are those in our own homes through the roles of spouse and parents. In the gospel of John (13:3-8), it states, Jesus…
“fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God, he rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Master, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.”
We are called to be like Christ, to humble ourselves by giving all glory to God and to be willing to care for each other even in the smallest of ways. This does not mean to let others take advantage of you or to lazily sit back and assume someone else will do all the work. Instead, Jesus reminds us that the little things, especially when done out of love, make the biggest difference.
I believe this continues to be true in our world today, but I also believe we can do better. So, during this Lent, I challenge you to look at your own life more closely. How are you being of service to others in the community? How are you being of service to those in your own family and home? If you don’t like what you see or you’re interested in doing more, then reach out to the church for ways to help…talk to your family about how to share this Lenten mission together…pray for God’s loving guidance.