How do we respond to the call from Ash Wednesday’s scripture for a “steadfast spirit” of compassion and kindness for all God’s people and so be ambassadors for Christ?
Each year Caritas Australia’s Project Compassion, which runs through the six weeks of Lent, brings together communities across Australia, in solidarity with the world’s poor, to help end poverty, promote justice and uphold dignity. This year the focus is on youth and their communities globally and providing them with a Just Future.
Caritas Australia has prepared a range of resources to accompany people through Lent, including the following reflection on the readings for Ash Wednesday:
The readings for Ash Wednesday remind us of our Christian service promised at Baptism. The prophet Joel in the first reading says: “call the people together, summon the community, assemble the elders, gather the children”. Today this sounds like a call to live in solidarity and to work together as a community for the common good.
We can feel overwhelmed by the grief, sadness and heartbreaking events that we see in the daily news cycle. In the first reading the prophet Joel invites us to let our hearts be broken because when our hearts are broken then there is room for the tender compassion of God to be released in us. Then we might truly be “ambassadors for Christ” [2 Cor 5: 20-6:2].
The Gospel gives a fuller explanation of how we are to practise prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
Traditionally the season of Lent reminds us of the reasons why we follow the Gospel teaching: to ensure the poor are fed, the thirsty are given drink and the poor and outcast are given welcome [Isaiah 58:6-9].
Caritas Australia is the international aid and development agency of the Catholic Church in Australia. Each Lent, Caritas launches its Project Compassion appeal. This is a practical way of bringing to life our Christian service.
The theme is ‘A Just Future’. Perhaps we could take a moment to visualise what ‘A Just Future’ looks like.
As we observe our Lenten practices we find ourselves in solidarity with the people who gather with us on this journey in the communities we serve. It is the spirit of God who calls us to this faithfulness and in this spirit we are energised by the life and love of Jesus.
For more Project Compassion resources visit the Caritas Australia website.
A prayer for Lent
This Lent, Lord, help me leave behind the distractions of my daily life and make this a time of spiritual retreat, of letting go all that holds me back from taking the risk of drawing closer to you, allowing your Spirit to lead me, and speak to my heart.
Forty days, or four, or forty minutes or four! Whatever I can manage! The time spent is not the key, I know, but my willingness to look into my frailty, and then to trust in You and to seek your will for me.