Working Together During This Lenten Season
February 25, 2009 § 1 Comment
Our Partner Agencies are experiencing 50 percent more people needing food assistance than this same time last year, and many for the first time.
The Lenten season is often associated with fasting, a deliberate choice to limit food, while a food-insecure family may have to choose between paying rent or purchasing nutritious foods.
“He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterward he was hungry” (Mt 4:2).
As this scripture tells us, Jesus felt the hunger pains that our hungry brothers and sisters feel each day. We, too, in these days of Lenten fasting and abstinence should be brought to the point of these pains. The physical hunger, for want of food, is to make us more aware of our spiritual hunger. If done with humility and love, rather than obligation, our hunger is offered to God as a pleasing sacrifice.
In the book of Tobit, Raphael the Angel tells Tobit and his son how to increase the power of their sacrifice, “Prayer and fasting are good, but better than either is almsgiving accompanied by righteousness. A little with righteousness is better than abundance with wickedness. It is better to give alms than to store up gold; for almsgiving saves one from death and expiates every sin. Those who regularly give alms shall enjoy a full life” (Tb 12:8-9).
How wonderful it is, then, to make a sacrifice of hunger on behalf of those who hunger every day. The Church requires us to fast and abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. However, we could voluntarily fast on all Fridays of Lent. The traditional Catholic fast is to have one full meal and two smaller meals that equal the size of a regular meal. Consider almsgiving in the form of donating the difference or the cost of those smaller meals to help all of those in Central Texas who have true hunger.
Rev. John McMullen, Senior Pastor, First United Methodist Church, Downtown Austin —
“During this holy season many are looking for significant ways to be intentional in their spiritual activity. Our tradition suggests that such significance can be found in service and in generosity. The last months have been difficult ones financially for many people in our area. Many are having to make decisions between shelter and food. The Capital Area Food Bank is one of those agencies that helps those in such hard places. Our congregation has been a supporter of their work for a number of years, but the need is now greater.
With that in mind, I would suggest a daily setting aside of a can of food and a time of prayer for the ones who will receive and benefit from receiving nourishment in their time of need. On a regular basis drop off these set-aside and prayed-over gifts so that it will be available for those in need. You will enrich the lives of others and also enrich your Lenten preparation for Easter.”