Sunday, February 17, 2013

To Renew the Spirit of Lent

40 Day THINKfast - The First Sunday

 Let us renew the Spirit of Lent once again.

As Ryan and I complete the first 5 days of our fast for Development and Peace, these are the words that come to me. We are grateful to those who have already donated to our own fast pages.  We are moved by those who have signed up for D&P's  Good Friday THINKfast and become D&P fundraisers in response to our call.

When Development and Peace was founded 46 years ago in the wake of Vatican II, it was mandated to "renew the Spirit of Lent". For 46 years Catholics in our parishes and schools across Canada have continued to faithfully give on the 5th Sunday of lent in support of our mission to end poverty and build a world of justice. But our annual ShareLent campaign must also now reach beyond these safe walls and out into the world if we are truly to be Christ's witnesses.

Over the last two days I have had the honour of walking with a true witness of Christ - Pedro Jimeno Barreto, archbishop of Huancayo, Peru. He has joined us in Canada to launch the national ShareLent campaign. Death threats against his life would not stop him from speaking out in defense of the poor in his archdiocese - who live in one of the most polluted places on the planet, la Oroya. His efforts, supported by your donations, have put a stop to the ecological destruction of their lives.  His witness embodies the Spirit of Lent, the move from death to life.

As D&P moves towards its 50th anniversary, it is time to renew the Spirit of Lent once again. This time: on-line, where the world now gathers. Through our on-line Fast pages, we are calling out to the world, "Repent and believe the good news."

These words, "repent and believe the good news," are spoken as we are marked with ashes for the world to see on Ash Wednesday. Repentance is not a popular word in today's culture, especially if you are trying to raise funds for your mission, as we are doing with this Fast.

But repent we must if we are ever going to live in a world that respects the human dignity of each and every person and sees the truth of God's Love. We are calling out to all those who know that the world cannot continue to ignore the cry of the poor and of the earth much longer.  We are calling out to those who know we are not sharing the riches of the earth as God would have us do. We must repent from our ways of selfishness, violence, war and destruction that are the source of so much poverty and despair.  When we desecrate the poor, we desecrate God.

I believe there are millions of us that want to repent. Because repentance is not about guilt. It is really about wanting to live a better life and to be a better person. God's love can show us how to do that. There is nothing more generous than God's love.

Generousity is the antidote. Generousity of Spirit is where goodness is to be found. Generousity is able to recognize the image of God in every human person, no matter where they come from or what they look like. That generousity is there in every one of us, beating in our heart. Through our fast we want to find that generousity - to honour it and celebrate it.

We choose to fast to renew the Spirit of Lent. We choose to fast as Christ's witnesses to the world - "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring the good news to the afflicted." Liberty to the captives, sight to the blind, freedom to the oppressed. This is the Good News. Development and Peace is making it happen in our work around the world every day. Read the stories about what we are doing. Come and join us. We are fasting for 40 days. We invite you to sign up and join for one of them - Good Friday. Sign-up for the Good Friday THINKfast and raise funds for a better world!