This morning at Ash Wednesday mass, Monsignor challenged us to do something during Lent this year. Something for others. Fasting and abstaining is all well and good, and self-reflection and self-improvement is always a good thing, but he suggested that doing something for others might make a difference in our homes, in our communities, in our world, but perhaps most importantly in our hearts.
I’m realizing that giving something up is much easier than doing something. Giving up chocolate or alcohol is admirable, but it’s an empty gesture if I remain unkind to others. Prayers are nice but are rendered meaningless if I don’t put a little action behind them.
I need to do something. So here I am, telling myself to get up, get out, and get going! This isn’t easy. And to make it an even greater challenge, today’s Gospel comes with a warning label: Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; when you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you. What the heck*? (also trying to give up swearing for Lent or at least tone it down a bit) So, I should do something good or give to the poor but do it on the down low? Christianity is hard. Lent makes it even harder.
For me Lent is about trying to try – if that makes sense. I’ll try to DO SOMETHING. I’ll try to GIVE SOMETHING. I’ll try to quit swearing (that’s where the trying to try really comes in).
I used to think that Lent was a time to fix me. But when Holy Week comes, I may not have a spiritual awakening. When Lent is over, I may not feel like a changed man. Perhaps God is just waiting for me to figure that out. My only hope is that God will save me and that I will have the courage and humility to allow it.
And it the meantime, I need to do something.