“Remember thou art dust, and to dust, you shall return” Genesis 3:19
These are the words spoken as ashes are placed on our foreheads on this day that the season of Lent begins in the Church. This is a reminder that our time here on this earth is limited, we are mortal, and one day will no longer exist. These words should call us to the remembrance of what we have done during our lives here on this earth. What will our legacy be? If we were to die tomorrow, how would people remember us, or would they?
Historically, fasting was a large part of the Lenten journey. Christians would benefit fast from meat products; meat was seen as lavish in a world where things were hard to come by. This gradually was relaxed over time and reduced to only a few days a year if any at all. However, we tend to fast, or give up things, during this period of the year. Most of the time it is something of little consequence like giving up chocolate or coffee, although that would be a great sacrifice for me.
However, the Prophet Isaiah gives us a hint of what we actually should be fasting from not only during the Lenten season but all year long:
Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin? Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, here I am.
Isaiah is very precise with his words about how we are to live our lives. It is not to give up something of little consequence, but it is about making a difference in someone else’s life. Doing something for someone, without looking for a reward, is what we are called to do.
Why should we do this? Well Isaiah has the answer for that question:
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 we do what Isaiah is suggesting, God will bless us.
As we continue this journey through Lent lets us resolve to do something for another person each day, not matter how small it is. If we do this God will bless us and we will be remembered as a person of great faith.