I have never liked Lent. As a very young child I remember a time of the year (and it seemed to come every year) when life seemed tense and just miserable. Those around me seemed much more irritable and less patient. The fun of the Christmas Holidays was over and the new clothes I got were now worn and ordinary. The days were cold and I was tired of being stuck in the house. Today, I figure that time of the year, must have been Lent.
I still don’t like Lent, especially when I read today’s passage from Isaiah:
This, rather, is the fasting that I wish:
releasing those bound unjustly,
untying the thongs of the yoke;
Setting free the oppressed,
breaking every yoke;
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. (Isaiah 58:6-7)
Do you really expect me to do all these things Isaiah? I support the local homeless shelter with a yearly contribution and I donate my old clothes to the Brown Elephant, a local resale shop benefiting the Howard Brown Health Center. I would never turn my back on my own, unless of course they got on my nerves. Oh, and I volunteer once a year at the Chicago Food Depository. That’s enough right? What’s this releasing those bound unjustly and setting free the oppressed?
Hum? I think I know now why that time long after Christmas was miserable as a child.
Dan O’Donnell is a Passionist Partner and a longtime friend of the Passionists. He lives in Chicago.