For those of us who grew up in the heyday of post-WWII Catholic life, Lent brings back vivid images of boldly (and a bit too proudly?) showing off our ashed foreheads, out-competing (a bit too proudly?) classmates with what we were giving up, Friday stations of the cross, and scrambled eggs on Friday night…better than the tuna melts.
For all that and more, Lent endures as a valuable time to assess. What’s gone well? What not so much?
Today’s first reading from the Prophet Daniel expresses what each of us has confessed at some point in our lives: “We have sinned, been wicked and done evil; we have rebelled and departed from your commandments and your laws.” But recognizing and confessing our sins and faults may be the easier Lenten task.
Looking back over my life, my cringe-worthy regrets are not so much what I did but what I did not do. When I knew I could have been a better friend. What I did not do that I knew even then I should have done. How many times did I let fear get in the way of doing what was right?
I find Jesus’ injunction in Luke’s gospel today to be so pertinent and timely. Stop with the judging, will you?! We all know and count on the mercy of God to forgive us. But then we turn around and just keep on judging others for who they are, how they vote, who they love, what their skin color is, or how they worship. My goodness, we’re back to childhood days of “My Lenten fast is harder than yours, so I am better than you.”
In whatever ways you choose to practice a Lenten discipline, maybe complement it with choosing a Lenten kindness that takes some of today’s pervasive judging of others off the table.
Robert Hotz is a consultant with American City Bureau, Inc. and was the Director of The Passion of Christ: The Love That Compels Campaign for Holy Cross Province.