Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am. If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail. Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in.
If you refrain from trampling the sabbath, from pursuing your own interests on my holy day; if you call the sabbath a delight and the holy day of the Lord honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, serving your own interests, or pursuing your own affairs; then you shall take delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride upon the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of your ancestor Jacob, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
Last year as I was wondering what to do for Lent, I heard a message that hit home. An abbot encouraged his monks not to be so hard on each other. He asked them instead to allow others “space to live in,” to honor others “for who they are.”
The message struck me because I tend to judge people, including myself. Imagine what it would be like, I thought, to have ample room to move around, to make mistakes, and to grow. Today’s scripture from Isaiah echoes the Lenten challenge that the abbot’s words set out: remove from your midst oppression and malicious speech. Help heal others’ suffering.
Over the Lenten season, I tried to notice when my inner critics launched into their destructive chatter. As I tried to quiet them and to presume goodwill, what scripture promises started to happen. Light replaced darkness and gloom. A bright, watered garden full of fascinating people, with all sorts of gifts and differences, began to blossom all around.
How is God drawing you to look upon a co-worker, family member, friend or even yourself differently this Lent?
—Mary Anne Reese is an attorney in Cincinnati, Ohio. She graduated from Xavier University’s theology program and belongs to St. Robert Bellarmine Parish..
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.
—From the Peace Prayer of St. FrancisPlease share the Good Word with your friends!