This morning's passages for Great Lent are all OT passages, Isaiah, Genesis and Proverbs:
And I'm struck by three messages in them.
In Isaiah, the voice of solidarity with me.
What do you mean by crushing My people And grinding the faces of the poor?” Says the Lord God of hosts. Isaiah 3:15What poetry in those words, for I feel that way whenever I hear them dismissed, whenever I hear they are bottom feeders, like the woman of Cana, fit only to eat the crumbs of others. Someone recently asked me when I was returning to Mexico, because she had saved pencils stubs for the orphans there. "I figure, when you've got nothing, anything is good," she said. She's known nothing, but why are these stubs not good enough for our thrifty selves, up here, north of the border. Why do we not use those ourselves and save our money to give the best to those cannot enjoy such bright newness?
Why is okay to form and fashion a society where the poor are the ones left to take care of themselves?Research bore this out this week in an Atlantic article, wherein Ken Stearn reported in "Why the Rich Don't Give to Charity" that the bottom 20% of wage earners give 3.2 percent of income on average, and to people-centered or religious organizations. The wealthy give to academic and cultural causes and at a rate of 1.3% of their income.
In Genesis, we heard our story, as Fr. Chad Hatfield speaks of in the Lenten meditation, and I happen to be writing an extensive piece on this mythos versus the one of Second Eve, Mary. Which story do we believe?
For this, I was reminded of Bruce Feiler's wonderful read this week on healthy stories for families. I know the story we had on my father's side of the family was one of service to God, of hardship survived by joy and family and prayer. Eve's story is one of hiding, of brokenness and a God of Love who chases them down in the Garden. Then, when God cannot fix this, He sets in motion a plan to set humankind free of the injury and sickness separating His beloved from Him. This is not the retributive, punitive God I thought I knew growing up. It is a God who always loved us so much and wanted to be with us. Parenting a teenage daughter, who pulls away from me and thinks my desire to take her out, to eat as a family, to smile at each other, is me, longing for her. This is the love of God.
And, finally, the final lines of our Proverbs reading. God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. It is Great Lent. Please forgive me, a sinner for any haughtiness as I work through what see, often in judgment against another, but need to turn back to my behavior. For instance, I need to be one of those poor people and give out of my best, for God's people. For restored and loved people heal the world with the gratitude that the care and newness of generous giving creates. And, I need to make it clear to my kids that our story, the story after seminary, is that prayer and love bring us through the ups and downs. My story needs to be one of joyful struggle. Gratitude. True Eucharist.