6 Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin? (Isaiah 58:6 – 7)
In the beginning of Lent in the church calendar, we remember the temptation of Jesus, his suffering on the Cross and his death. Lent is a time to retrospect into ourselves along with the Church to see if we are walking the way that Jesus showed us or if we have missed the mark. Lent is a time to repent and rely on God for the abundance of mercy and grace. In the midst of a constantly moving and busy world, God calls us to meditate on the way of the Cross. In some church traditions, the way of the Cross is very important during the season of Lent. To follow Jesus is to deny oneself and take up one’s Cross.
While we meditate on the suffering and death of Jesus, we ought to know that God is also suffering with the suffering communities around us today. We come across different people who are dehumanized by oppressive systems that deny life, like migrants, refugees, Dalits, and religious minorities.
Lent can be a spiritual journey where we take up our Cross, i.e., to leave our narcissistic comfort zones and walk towards marginalized communities around us to pray for them and pray with them, asking God what God wants us to do. In Isaiah, we read what fasting is during lent and what God expects from us.
When we act for the suffering communities sacrificing our time, comfort, and wealth, we are standing in solidarity not only with the people but also with God, who is with them. This spiritual journey saves us from narcissism and self-centeredness, thus helping oneself to move towards the other who lives outside the gate in the margins. Jesus was crucified outside the gate and to witness this Jesus today is through witnessing, together with God along with the suffering humanity. While we stand in solidarity with oppressed communities, the body of Christ is also called to stand up against oppressive systems in prayers and action, though the system might be powerful like Mammon. May God grant us the courage to walk to the margins and meet the crucified Christ outside the margins and witness the sacrificing love of Christ.
Let us remain silent for a few minutes remembering the way of the Cross.
Dear God, as we begin this time of Lent, we ask for your forgiveness as, at times, we went far from you. God, as we remember your suffering, give us the will to fast in the way you want and share our food and wealth with those who need more than us. Help us to repent from our sinful ways and depend on your grace completely. Journey with us and lead us during the lent to get closer to you. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
-Shakespeare Sigamoney, Yonsei University