(What a privilege it is to welcome today’s guest blogger Margaret Felice,
with a reflection on today’s readings.)
Thus says the Lord GOD:
Cry out full-throated and unsparingly,
lift up your voice like a trumpet blast;
Tell my people their wickedness,
and the house of Jacob their sins.
Yikes. Do you ever hear a reading that shakes you up, that has you hesitant when it is time to respond “Thanks be to God”? That’s how I often feel when I hear readings that dwell on the wickedness of humanity.
That’s not to say that I don’t think such wickedness exists. I see it ever day, in large and small ways. I recognize it in my own heart, and try to respond with charity when I recognize it in the hearts of others. I just feel more comfortable attempting to draw out the positive rather than squashing the negative.
But this is our scripture. As with all the correction that comes to us from God, it’s not the last word.
This, rather, is the fasting that I wish:
releasing those bound unjustly,
untying the thongs of the yoke;
Setting free the oppressed,
breaking every yoke;
Sharing your bread with the hungry,
sheltering the oppressed and the homeless;
Clothing the naked when you see them,
and not turning your back on your own.
As one naturally inclined to fight for justice, these words make my heart soar. What a glorious task we have in front of us! To set the oppressed free, to care for the needy, to welcome others: these are daunting, but inspiring. How blessed we are that this is what God thinks we are capable of!
So as I “cry out full-throated and unsparingly”, can this be part of my cry? Perhaps I can cry out for justice and freedom, while also acknowledging the sinfulness that makes us complicit in acts of unfairness, injustice, and sin.
Lent will be rich in messages for us, and the many meanings of Lent can distract and overwhelm us. None of us will perfectly share or live every admonition or maxim of this holy season. So can we resolve to pick one, one that makes your heart soar, and cry out full-throated whatever message of repentance or grace that God chooses to plant in our hearts this Lent?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your wound shall quickly be healed;
Your vindication shall go before you,
and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer,
you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am!
(The scripture quoted is from today’s first reading, the beginning of Isaiah Chapter 58. I encourage you to visit the USCCB daily readings page to reflect on all of the readings for today. )
Margaret Felice is a singer, actress, educator and writer living in Boston. She blogs at www.margaretfelice.com, and hope is her favorite theological virtue.