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Lenten sacrifice calls for consideration of what will be pleasing to God

      An acquaintance of mine recently asked what I was “giving up” for Lent this year. I had to admit I didn’t know but was still pondering what that might be. The polite thing to do was ask, in return, what she would sacrifice for the season.

      Soda pop, she said proudly, with no hesitation. She had been giving up soda every Lent since she was a little girl. That might have been admirable if she hadn’t continued. “It’s easy,” she said. “I don’t drink a lot pop and I’ve given it up for Lent for so long that it’s really fairly easy.”      

      Now I know what you’re thinking. Aren’t I afraid of offending the lady? Well, to be honest, she’s not Catholic, doesn’t know what I do for a living and she probably has no awareness that this paper exists. I don’t repeat this to mock her efforts but it made me think about our own Lenten efforts.

      When I was in grade school, our young priest announced to classes on Ash Wednesday that he was giving up smoking for Lent. Just about every adult we knew in that day and age smoked so this was a big deal. We were in awe of his sacrifice. Then Father appeared on the playground the next day with a cigar. One of my classmates remarked how he thought that was cheating.

      In a Lenten retreat many years ago, our retreat master asked us to consider carefully our Lenten sacrifices. Is it something that will be pleasing to God? Will our sacrifice make us better people, both on the inside and out, and, at the end of the day, bring us closer to God? Or, is it merely something to do for the sake of doing it?

      I read a reflection on the readings for February 13. The day’s Gospel revolved around Jesus healing the man whose deafness also encumbered him with a severe speech impediment. He was unable to speak due to his lack of hearing.

      Jesus touched the man, putting his finger in the man’s ears and touching his tongue, praying “Be opened,” and the impediment disappeared. The crowd was amazed: “They were exceedingly astonished and they said, ‘He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and (the) mute speak.’” (Mk 7:37)

      In his reflection on this passage, Father Kenneth Grabner, C.S.C. challenges us to consider the effects of spiritual deafness in our own lives.

      For those of us who struggle to make Lent a meaningful experience, perhaps it time to reevaluate our “sacrifice” and instead consider how we might better open our ears to what God is calling us to do in our lives. How might we be the face of Christ to others? Once our ears are opened by Jesus, we are able to more clearly hear God’s Word. How then do we use our freed tongues to further spread that Word?

      Admittedly, it might be less of an effort to give up that can of Coke year after year but truly, what will be the end result? Lent calls our sacrifices to be pleasing to God, not merely convenient for ourselves. When we give it the time and effort it deserves, what results will worthy of being offered up to Jesus on his Cross.

     

      Debbie Bosak is the editor and general manager of Northwest Indiana Catholic Publications and a member of Ss. Peter and Paul Parish in Merrillville. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

     

     

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