Lent is not primarily about giving up things. The scriptures tell us that the Lord does not desire our fasting from food, but from injustice and oppression and looking to the needs of the people. You give up injustice by acting justly. You give up oppression by helping people to flourish.
Lent is a call to action, a call to take on the agenda of Jesus. Even the penances we might take on should in some way be outwardly oriented, affecting how we live in the world, how we relate to God, and how we interact with others.
Psalm 51 tells us that God does not desire burnt offerings, but a humble spirit and a contrite heart, the interior conversion this season calls us to.
I invite us to move through this season with a Lenten practice that helps us to respond more fully to what the Lord actually wants of us, and to embrace the change of heart called for in the gospels.
“Be merciful, as your Father is merciful, says the Lord.” (Luke 6:36)
PS This week’s images are from the deYoung Museum in San Francisco, pictured above.