“Then you shall cry and the Lord will answer, you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am! (Isaiah 58:9)
These words of peace and comfort follow a pretty straightforward list of things that one must do:
- release those bound unjustly
- set free the oppressed
- share your bread with the hungry
- shelter the homeless
- clothe the naked when you see them
If you’re like me, these may seem awfully familiar. These are a stark reminder of The Beatitudes and the way that I am called to live my life.
These seem like really big drastic tasks to undertake. But there are people in our lives who are suffering silently, and it really doesn’t take all that much to show someone you love them.
Release those bound unjustly, and set free the oppressed. Loneliness is a deep, dark prison. When I first got married, I moved to Ohio and really gave it my all to make new community and “fit in”. But no matter what I did I just couldn’t make it happen. You know what’s worse? I was too ashamed to tell anyone that I was lonely. My Instagram profile was beautiful. The perfect picture of newly wed adventures (and those were actually that awesome!). But I never ever thought to also let people know that I was hurting, and that I felt alone. I consistently wondered, what was I doing wrong? I was a nice person. I opened my door and welcomed everyone into my life, but I was having a really hard time not having a person that just got me. I wrote letters. I joined online communities. I was desperate for someone to say “I see you”.
When we moved back to Connecticut, that all went away. I moved practically to my hometown, and my parish and faith filled friends were all near me once more. But I have never forgotten those first 7 months when I just needed one person. I hope and pray that as I continue to establish and expand my community that I will always have the courage to make the first move. To invite one more person. To make one more person feel loved and help them break the chains of loneliness. Could you be that one person for someone else this lent?
Share your bread with the hungry. Shelter the Homeless. Could you donate the cash you would’ve spent on two meals this week to the collection for the local shelter and go with less this week? You don’t actually have to hand out bread (but it would be pretty cool to hand out food, and I desperately miss my time spent with PGH Homeless Ministry at FUS) to help feed the hungry.
Clothe the naked when you see them. In years past, lent has been a good excuse to eliminate bad dietary or lifestyle habits. Heck, this lent is falling into that also.While it is awesome to clean my house each night before bed, teeing my up for a restful morning to reflect, it would be better to clean my house with the intention of doing good for someone else too. Maybe it is worth it, as the weather warms up to go through your closet when you put away your winter clothes, and donate some of the beautiful, lovely clothes you own to a women’s shelter, or an organization that gives freely. I personally need to do this. I have an abundance of clothing that I just don’t have enough days in a year to wear, and I should share this wealth with someone else.
Lent is a time for us to pause and think about all that we have, and what we need to change in order to be the best version of ourselves that we can be. At the end of these 40 days, I hope that I am a little more empathetic, a little less vain, and that everyone I encounter, comes to know Jesus, even in just the tiniest way, because I am living more like Him.