Almsgiving, prayer, and fasting… key in our lives for Lent
Reflections on the readings for Ash Wednesday (February 17, 2021): JL 2:12-18; PS 51:3-4,5-6,12-13,14,17; 2 COR 5:20–6:2; MT 6:1-6,16-18
MISSIO offers “Mission In Scripture” to nurture a missionary heart, providing reflections on the missionary themes in the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days.
While we are eating less, or even skipping an occasional meal, we can honor our Lord and assist others by giving the money saved to an organization that serves the poor or buying a meal for a homeless person.
In the Gospel for Ash Wednesday, we hear Jesus tell His disciples that it is not enough to do good works. To truly honor God we must perform them quietly and humbly, without drawing attention to ourselves. Christ spoke specifically about almsgiving, prayer, and fasting. For Christians, these three practices are key to our lives during Lent. We need to understand that each of these devout elements can draw us closer to our Lord, but only if we offer them as gifts to Him. “When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you” (Matthew 6:16-18).
Jesus makes it clear that our Father sees everything we do and knows why we do it. When we fast, pray, or offer charitable gifts, God is pleased as long we do so out to love for Him and for our brothers and sisters in need. While we are eating less, or even skipping an occasional meal, we can honor our Lord and assist others by giving the money saved to an organization that serves the poor or buying a meal for a homeless person. On Ash Wednesday last year, few of us could have foreseen just how difficult and widespread the worldwide pandemic would be. We could not grasp the terrible hardships for many whose lives and livelihoods have been threatened or even lost. As much as we are able, according to our own circumstances, let us try to reach out to assist those facing loss of loved ones, homes, jobs, and, of course, good health. As we pray to God to help us grow spiritually, let us also make an effort to look after the welfare of others – their bodies, minds, hearts and souls. As we walk toward Calvary with Christ, let us see His Holy Face in His beloved people.
Suggested missionary action: Let us begin this Lenten season with our hearts open to God’s mercy and to a desire to develop spiritually. Let us use each day to follow Christ more truly and to help our sisters and brothers who are suffering in our own neighborhoods and around the world.
This Lent, put your money where your heart is… support those on the front lines in the Pope’s missions who are making a difference for the world’s most vulnerable communities.