First Sunday of Lent
By Fred Dabrowski, member of CTA’s Vision Council, Anti-Racism team, the CTA/Rio Grande Valley Chapter
We cried to God, the God of our ancestors, who heard our cry and saw our affliction, our toil and our oppression.
Lord, teach us to be generous.
Teach us to serve you as you deserve;
to give and not count the cost;
to fight and not to heed the wounds;
to toil and not to seek for rest;
to labor and not ask for any reward,
save that of knowing that we do your will.
-St. Ignatius of Loyola
We live in a time of open discrimination and great inequality. We are shocked and appalled by the people who support policies that violate all that Jesus taught us. The current administration ignores the asylum laws of our country, separates children from parents, winks at the actions of white supremacist groups, passes tax policies that reward the rich, continues imprisonment of people of color at higher rates than “whites.” So many friends and family members see nothing wrong with these actions as they do not directly affect them. This includes Christians who are ignoring how Jesus showed us the way to live.
Our readings for this first Sunday of Lent remind us that we are called to give back what God has given us. We are to hear the cry of the oppressed and use what gifts we have to ease their burdens, and as the Pope has told us, “build bridges not walls.” The psalm response of “Be with me Lord, when I am in trouble,” is a call for us to be the ones who follow the way of Jesus and walk with those who are oppressed. The temptations Jesus resisted in the desert are the same temptations we must deal with. We cannot be so wrapped up in the ways of society that we succumb to the greed that causes us to forget that all we have is a gift. A gift that needs to be shared, not hoarded.
Lent is a season of resistance. Resistance to the evil that can turn us away from the way Jesus lived and asks us to follow. Racism, sexism, classism and all other oppressive actions infiltrate the structures of our society. We need to use this time of Lent to reflect on how we perpetuate these violations to human dignity through our actions or inactions, then take steps to change and walk with those who are suffering due to these evils.
I ask that each of us pray daily:
“For all those who are excluded, blamed, kept at a distance, that they might remind us of God’s disgust when we profess communion while separating one group from another, and that we may learn to welcome as God welcomes us all.” (Lent: the Sunday Readings, Megan McKenna, 1997, page 140)
Thoughts and prayers are not enough, after praying we need to act to be welcoming to all, just as Jesus showed us.
Questions for Discussion / Reflection:
1. How am I giving my time, my resources, my life to helping those oppressed?
2. How do I/we continue to perpetuate the structures of oppression and what are we doing to end them?
Suggestion for Almsgiving:
In the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, Catholic Charities is providing assistance to those seeking asylum, who are released by the border patrol to await their court dates. Please consider donating to any local organization in your area that is assisting asylum seekers and migrants.
Fred Dabrowski is a member of CTA Anti-Racism Team, the CTA/Rio Grande Valley Chapter in Texas and an at-large member of the Vision Council. He is also active in other peace and justice organizations in the Rio Grande Valley and West Michigan.