This Lent, let us resolve to fast from hostilities toward each other
My Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
The beginning of the season of Lent brings to us many images and traditions. Foremost among these are practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. In the Gospel reading for Ash Wednesday we hear Jesus admonish us, “When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet; when you pray … go to your inner room; when you fast, do not look gloomy.”
We will do well to recall that the word “Lent” means “Spring” and that the season generally parallels the end of winter and the promise of new life made so abundant in Spring. Likewise in our Catholic tradition we see a connection between this holy season and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Parishes will often strive to schedule additional opportunities to celebrate this sacrament. For those who may have found that a long time has passed since you confessed your sins, the 40 days of Lent lie before us as an invitation come to this font of grace, to clean the slate, to celebrate the mercy of God.
I wish to propose a particular brand of reconciliation, which may or may not include sacramental reconciliation. Over the past couple of years I hear more and more people speak of anger or alienation from family, friends, coworkers and colleagues. Very often this has come from differences over politics and recent elections or attitudes about the pandemic and questions about vaccines, masks and mandates. It seems that the ability to politely and respectfully disagree has been lost. I suppose this is not totally new. It has been said that where two or more are gathered there is God; but there is also likely to be lively disagreement.
Has your family or circle of friends been harmed by such disagreements? Are you willing to embrace as a Lenten project reconciliation with those with whom you disagree? No winners. No losers. Just family peace and kindness. Just a setting aside of tensions.
Our inclination to be alienated by these matters is aggravated by social media where all too often tolerance has been abandoned for insults and bullying. It surely doesn’t help that most of us get our news today from highly partisan networks. Political parties must share the blame when they ridicule any notion of compromise or even dialogue.
But as Jesus said when he overheard the apostles arguing over who would be first in the Kingdom of God, “It cannot be that way with you.”
This Lent we might resolve to pray better and more often, to dig a little deeper in sharing what we have with those who have little, and maybe we can fast from hostilities with family and friends.
Sincerely in Christ,
Most Reverend William F. Medley
Diocese of Owensboro
Originally printed in the March 2022 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.