Isn’t this the fast I choose:
releasing wicked restraints, untying the ropes of a yoke,
setting free the mistreated,
and breaking every yoke? -Isaiah 58:6
Giving up something for Lent can be a growth experience of being without something that we usually use to fill an emptiness. This is significant spiritual work. And, it can miss the whole point. Maybe I can do without alcohol, caffeine, bubble baths, and Facebook for a whole 40 days, but I might still be a jerk and all this self-sacrifice has only served to build up my self-satisfaction rather than contribute to having teachable, humble hearts. As 1 Corinthians 13 says, “If I give up everything I have but don’t have love, I have noting.”
That’s why Pope Francis’ call for Christians to give up indifference rings so true in my ears. This morning I heard a National Public Radio reporter tell how desperate the situation is for Syrian refugees, calling it the greatest humanitarian crisis in generations. But, he said, the world seems to have no more compassion to give. And how true is that on the local level? Today I talked to someone who needs house repairs to be able to stay in his house or the city will condemn it. He is a single father of two small children. I will confess that I didn’t want to talk to him. Yet one more person in need. I felt indifferent. Then I remembered Pope Francis’ words: give up indifference to God’s children. So I returned his call. And though I did nothing for him except give him numbers of agencies that might could help him, he thanked me profusely for returning his call. “I just was crying because I couldn’t even get anyone to talk to me,” he said.
So besides doing without social media, with God’s help, I will also give up indifference. Hopefully we can set free the mistreated and choose the fast God commands.