“In order to know the Good News about Jesus holistically, beyond something that we work out in our brains like a word problem, we try to enter into this story with our bodies.” ~ Tish Harrison Warren
There is an old proverb that states, “Don’t judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes.” It is a reminder that we cannot possibly know someone or understand someone unless we are willing to experience what that person experiences.
That, I believe, is at the heart of Warren’s quote today. She reminds us that Lent is supposed to be more than a mental exercise. Can we reflect upon the Lord? Sure. Can we meditate on His life? Of course. However, unless we are willing to go further, to enter into His experience, Lent will remain a bit meaningless.
How can we possibly enter into Jesus’ experience? For starters, we can mortify ourselves. We can deny ourselves some of our daily pleasures. That is what the practice of giving something up for Lent is all about. Denying ourselves helps us to realize our many needs and cravings.
When we deny ourselves, we often go through some physical withdrawal symptoms, especially if we are giving up chocolate or coffee or pop. They have caffeine and we don’t realize how much our systems crave that substance. Headaches and other pains often accompany our giving up some of our favorites.
We can also enter into Jesus’ experience by reaching out to all people. We often play it safe and help those we know and those we like. We don’t like reaching out to others if we do not know them or if we do not like them. Yet the Lord reached out to everyone and challenges us to do the same. Stepping into Jesus’ shoes demands that we extend our love to everyone. That is quite a challenge.
Thus, our human experience helps us to know the Lord more completely. If we allow ourselves to participate in the Lord’s work, we will have a better understanding of His love for all and we will begin to appreciate others — and even ourselves — better day by day.
There is a good reason that we choose to mortify ourselves during Lent. It gives us the opportunity to step into the shoes of the Lord. Don’t be afraid to do so. That is the only way that we will get to know Him better.
FAITH ACTION: Don’t be afraid to sacrifice during the Lenten season. Consider extending your sacrifices throughout the year.
Today is the Solemnity of St. Joseph. As such, the law of abstinence does not apply as today has the same bearing as a Sunday. Although you are not required to abstain from meat and meat products today you may still do so, as you embrace the spirit of the season of Lent.