Repairer of the breach, they shall call you, Restorer of ruined homesteads. These are titles in which I would love to share. They first demand justice. In yesterday’s and today’s first readings, Isaiah decries the phony fasting of the powerful. They appear to sacrifice for God, but they prey on the poor and the oppressed. Yet God never stops calling the sinful.
By all accounts, Levi is a sinner. He has for years upheld injustice. However, Levi recognizes his brokenness and comes to Christ. The story of Levi in today’s Gospel makes me wonder if I am willing to be broken in a different way.
Am I willing to let my heart be broken by injustice? Am I willing to be heartbroken by climate change, environmental degradation, and the human suffering they cause? Am I willing to admit my fault in perpetuating injustice, my own need of healing?
To truly honor the Sabbath and God, we must work for the good of others. Isaiah invites us to reject the pomp of hypocritical fasting. God asks us to break down oppression, give bread to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted.
As I look ahead at the days of Lent, I wonder less what I should give up and more what ways to address brokenness in the world and in myself. Before Lent, Pope Francis asked Catholics to consider going vegetarian or vegan. Cutting our meat consumption is one of the best ways to reduce our carbon footprint and feed others. This is the type of fasting God desires—sacrificing for love and care of others.
While going vegan is not for everyone, let’s try to make our Lenten sacrifices about healing brokenness in ourselves, in others, and in creation. Doing so will make the world “like a watered garden.”
Bro.Ken Homan, S.J., is a Jesuit brother currently studying and writing at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. In addition to his work as a student, Bro.Ken works in union organizing and environmental justice. In his spare time, he is a woodworker and master of puns.