It is the first Friday of Lent. The marks on our foreheads have well been washed away from Ash Wednesday, and perhaps you are engaging in your own fast today, beyond meat or limiting your meals.
Regardless of where you find yourself, we are reminded today by the Prophet Isaiah of how we can truly fast during this Lenten season. Among his declarations, he shares: release those bound, set free the oppressed, share your bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and the homeless, clothe the naked. There is no question. These are pretty direct.
Hearing all these things, reading through this list of things that we can do—it can no doubt seem very overwhelming.
When the noise of injustice seems to be unbearable these days—through both violent and insidious acts of racism, greed, grief—the chaos can get in the way and I can find myself feeling frozen instead of getting my feet to move and do something.
And other times, I find that I jump right into the cause of something, without taking time to reflect and spend time with God in prayer and contemplation, just as Jesus did in the desert.
And sometimes, that’s the really hard part.
To be still, and think, what can I do? And then, to go do it.
I remind myself that no act is too small. Releasing those bound and setting free the oppressed can look like signing my name on a petition for a cause I really care about, like just immigration reform or for an end to the death penalty. It can mean taking difficult steps towards forgiving someone who has really hurt me, or even forgiving and freeing myself from negative self-talk or painful memories. And the acts of sharing bread with the hungry, providing shelter, and clothing those in need challenge me to rethink some of the decisions I make, and invite me to engage in these works of charity while continuing to persevere towards justice.
- How is God calling me to fast for justice during this Lenten season?
- What can I do for someone in need during this season, which may lighten the load for them just a bit more?
- How is God inviting me to engage in this Lenten season differently than in past Lenten seasons? How can I live this Lenten season differently?
Crystal Catalan serves as the director of diversity, equity, and inclusion at Presentation High School in San Jose, CA. She holds degrees from the University of San Diego and Eastern University, and previously served as a missioner with Cabrini Mission Corps in New York, the Philippines, Swaziland, and Radnor, PA at Cabrini University. She recently graduated with a masters in pastoral ministries with an emphasis in restorative justice and chaplaincy at Santa Clara University.