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Lenten Reflection: for the First Friday of Lent

The Gospel for today comes from Matthew 9:10-17 and is related to the notion of Lenten sacrifice.  When the Pharisees complain to Jesus about him sitting with tax collectors and sinners, he says, ”Learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ “

I grew up in the era of giving things up for Lent.  Even just yesterday, someone asked me what I am going to give up this year. My list of things given up is long and merciless over the years — no yelling at my brothers, no chocolate, no TV, no movies.  My family all still remembers the year I gave up Diet Coke, and begged never to suffer through that again.

More recently, I’ve turned the “giving up” practice into “doing something good” instead.  For example, I’ll make a commitment to volunteer at the Food Bank once a week during Lent, or increase my volunteer hours at Assistance League, or help out at a parish activity.  This year, meaningful and critical opportunities for service abound about DACA, immigration, children’s health and education.  It seems like the chance to reflect God’s mercy in Lent is even more important now when we do not see mercy and justice in the people and institutions that usually provide them.  Giving up chocolate hurt, but it didn’t help.  I’m ready to help.

This Post Has 9 Comments
  1. Beautiful reflection. I see Lent the same way, a chance to practice good things for others in a more focused way than usual.

  2. Excellent idea! Christin Tomy suggests “getting” during Lent.. one way being getting outside my comfort zone… by assisting others in need.

  3. Thank you for expressing so clearly your change in focus. I too have given up the “giving up” focus in order to put my energy into positive ways of influencing change in our society and church.

  4. Linda, this is so beautifully stated. My understanding of Lent has also changed over the years. thank you for sharing yourself so generously.

  5. Linda, thank you for your personal reflection and sharing. While “giving up” is not my focus it is hard to commit to doing something good. That is my challenge this Lent.

  6. Very good reflection. I have something of the same experience being asked what I will give up. I also choose to give up time and energy for the same of others in need.

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