Some people miss the point of Lent. Lent is not about fasting as deprivation and giving things up like some kind of game to prove how pure and fastidious we can be. Lent is about turning away from the idols of the ego and turning toward the things of the Spirit.
Do we harbor resentments when we should be understanding and compassionate? Do we like to play the victim to obtain sympathy and manipulate others? Do we project our guilt thinking “I might have done some bad things, but thank god I’m not as bad as them.?”
We love to play the game of “what about them” and “they did it first,” and “they are just getting what they deserve” as we play tit for tat.
Lent is a time to give up the games. It is a time to fast from being mean and spiteful. Lent is a time to put away our defensiveness, our arrogance, our narcissism and open our hearts with generosity, care and concern, and a desire for the well being of the other.
It is written in Isaiah 58: 9-10
“Then you will call, and the Lord will answer, you will cry for help, and he will say: ‘Here I am if you do away with the yoke of oppression, and the pointing finger and the malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed then your light will rise in the darkness, and you night will become like the noonday.’”
The God of Isaiah calls us not to bodily deprivation but to love and justice in the way we treat others. During Lent we are asked to give up our self centeredness and think more of others. What would you give up and turn away from if you were to treat others with more kindness and love?
We give up our bodily attachments in order to be more available for loving others as we do ourselves. Could you put your smartphone away and just listen with undivided attention to the people who cross your path today?