Lent: A Time for Giving and Sharing
Lent is a season of spiritual renewal that has been observed for centuries. Traditionally, people give up something they enjoy for the 40 days leading up to Easter. However, St. John Paul II had a different perspective on what we should give up during Lent.
In his 1979 Lenten message, John Paul II wrote, “Giving up something doesn’t just mean giving away what we don’t need. Sometimes it means giving away what we do need, just like the widow in the Gospel who knew that what she was giving away was already a gift from God.”
In other words, while it’s commendable to sacrifice non-essential things in our lives, it’s also important to give away things we do need, to help those who are in dire need.
The Polish pope expounded on this concept in 1980, stating that “True sharing, which involves encountering others, helps us free ourselves from the bonds that enslave us. When we see others as brothers and sisters, we rediscover that we are children of the same Father and heirs of God and coheirs with Christ. We have incorruptible riches from Him.”
John Paul II saw Lent as an opportunity to practice Christian charity by emptying ourselves and doing good for the most vulnerable in society.
In 1981, he reiterated this message, saying that “Lent is a time of truth, which, like in the case of the Good Samaritan, prompts us to pause, recognize our brothers and sisters, and offer our time and possessions to serve them in daily sharing. The Good Samaritan is the Church! The Good Samaritan is every man and woman! Called! By duty! Living charity! Let us sincerely, honestly, and simply examine ourselves. Our brothers and sisters are among the poor, sick, outcasts, and elderly. What kind of love do we have? What kind of truth?”
As you journey through Lent, consider how you can serve your neighbor and give up not just non-essential things, but also essential aspects of your life, acknowledging the suffering of those around us.