This year for lent, Pope Francis announced that the meaningful way to evaluate a charity or the value of giving up something is to consider the cost of being charitable or giving up something of one’s self. He said, “I distrust a charity that costs nothing and does not hurt.” The pope wants everyone to consider the value in giving up something. If it does not cause pain or cost something significant to you, are you truly giving up anything?
This statement from the pope caused me to consider when I give to others and what goes on inside me when I give. Do I only give when it is easy or convenient? Does laziness kick in? Do I look at a person and think that they do not deserve help? Do I consider stereotypes, then sit smugly in my own comfort while telling myself that I deserve to have more than somebody else?
Pope Francis has me considering what I can give up for Lent and beyond that will bring some pain or inconvenience to me. What will matter enough to remind me frequently of the sacrifice that Jesus not only requested of his followers, but that he modeled it for everyone to see.
Francis says a globalization of indifference has developed. We ignore the poor and disadvantaged. We make excuses for not doing more to help others. Many of us are born with so many advantages, but we tend to puff ourselves up with the thoughts that we did it ourselves or that we deserve the blessings. Yet, in spite of this supposed self sufficiency, we are brazen enough to ask God for more blessings.
I recently read a book entitled The Last Week by Marcus Borg. Borg encourages a holistic look at the scriptures in light of the historic circumstances and manner of writing from the time the scriptures were written. It changes the meaning compared to the typical piecemeal reading that is done. It is much more work, but it also means much more.
This Lenten season, I hope you will consider what Jesus means. What is the real story of Easter? Is it just a story that delivers something to me or is it a call from Jesus for me to deliver something for others?