The Invitation of Lent

Reflection for the First Sunday of Lent by FAN Board Member, Ms. Carolyn Townes

This reflection was originally posted in our February 27th newsletter

So, it’s Lent! What are you going to give up?

When I came into the Church twenty years ago this Easter, that is what I heard. You must give up something for Lent. Of course, I thought about the scrumptious things I loved and decided that I must give one of them up for 40 days. So, I gave up bacon! Well, aside from the fact that it nearly killed me, it also confounded me. How could giving up bacon for 40 days deepen my relationship with the Lord? I soon discovered that Lent is so much more than giving up delicious food. It is an invitation to look deeply within myself and give up those things that separated me from God and neighbor.

This First Sunday of Lent, the Gospel recounts Jesus being tempted in the desert. Elsewhere in Scripture we are told that Jesus was fully human, even to the point of being tempted, but he did not sin. As the Church begins this 40-day journey into the wilderness, we are reminded of our own temptations. Our temptations to things like violence, racism, gossip, and fear. Instead of focusing on the things we have to give up, let us look at what Lent invites us to. Lent is an invitation to kindness, to mercy, to justice, to peace and to live out the Beatitudes. Lent is an invitation to blessedness and wholeness after 40 days in the dry, desolate wilderness.

Saint Francis of Assisi called all Franciscans to yearlong Lent, not just the 40 days. We are to gaze and reflect every day on the places within ourselves that do not show the grace and charity of the Lord. We must constantly ask ourselves what keeps us from being the face of Christ to our neighbors? Is it fear? What am I afraid of? Perfect love casts out fear. Am I loving unconditionally? Or do I impose conditions on those I am in close contact with? Have I heard your story before I judge you? Do I seek to understand you before I demand that you understand me?

This Lenten season, I invite you to take this journey a little differently. Meditate on your prayer, your fasting and your almsgiving with new spiritual eyes. Instead of giving up the bread and chocolate, how about giving up using words that harm and divide and feast on using your words to create connection and peace.

Carolyn D. Townes, OFS
National Animator, Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation
U.S. Secular Franciscan Order
FAN Board Member

Published in: on February 28, 2017 at 9:28 am  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Well said, Carolyn. Thank you

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