Our readings today offer us some perspective on what it means to intentionally live out our journey of Lent. Oftentimes during the season of Lent, we think a lot about abstaining from meat (I’m sure this is particularly on your mind during this first Friday!), giving up your favorite candy, or maybe even refraining from hitting the snooze button each morning. You may have also planned intentional time for frequent prayer or participation in liturgy. The words of Isaiah remind us that fasting (and I’d add prayer) should always stretch farther than ourselves and must incorporate the needs of others.
This is the fasting that I wish…
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.
In hearing these words, my mind immediately wants to figure out a time when I can volunteer at a soup kitchen or to at least make sure that I offer a granola bar to a person that might be experiencing homelessness on the street. I recognize that I must live a life that speaks to the needs of those on the margins. However, many people would say that these realities and opportunities may not be readily available as we go about our daily routine on campus at Villanova. As a result, we may feel that we cannot easily live out Isaiah’s words unless we do something outside of our normal routine.
However, Saint Teresa of Calcutta responds to this simply by saying, “Find your own Calcutta. Find the sick, the suffering, and the lonely right there where you are — in your own homes and in your own families, in your workplaces and in your schools. You can find Calcutta all over the world, if you have the eyes to see.” Yes, it may be hard to find time to volunteer each week off campus in Philadelphia, but we must also open our eyes to see the need that is constantly before us right here and right now.
This Lent, in the midst of our commitments to fasting and prayer, let us remember these words of Isaiah and Mother Teresa’s reflection of them. Let us recognize the face of Christ in each person we interact with, especially those who journey alongside us day in and day out. Let us remember that our salvation is tied up with all those around us. We cannot walk on this journey of faith alone.