Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
As we enter our third pandemic Lent, many of us are exhausted. The ongoing threat of the pandemic, healthcare workers who are overburdened, and disruptions to parish and family life, work and school have taken a toll. And, on top of all of that, there is the deepening partisan hostility and political divisions in our country as well as in the Church. It is tempting to want to check out, circle the wagons, and care only for ourselves.
But, into this darkness, our Holy Father speaks words of encouragement, reminding us of St. Paul’s admonition:
“Let us not grow tired of doing good, for in due time we shall reap our harvest, if we do not give up. So then, while we have the opportunity (kairos), let us do good to all” (Gal 6:9-10).
The Greek word, kairos, means an opportune time, the right time. God’s time. Lent is a kairos moment as we prepare to journey to the Easter waters — for our catechumens, for the first time; for the rest of us, to renew our baptismal promises. We journey there together, supporting one another through our Lenten works of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. We are not alone!
This is the lesson that the pandemic has taught us. This is the path that being a synodal Church calls us to follow. We travel this life together.
By our prayer, we renew our relationship with God. We are reminded that we are not saved alone, but as part of a web of relationships.
By our fasting, we renew our relationship with creation. We are reminded that we are also creatures, dependent on God’s gifts, and that too often we have made possessions into gods. Fasting moves us to live in gratitude, instead of in a never-ending grasping for more.
By our almsgiving, we renew our relationships with one another. Through works of charity and justice, we help mend individual and societal wounds. We build bridges.
More than tasks on a checklist, these Lenten practices are our road to renewal. They provide strength in the midst of exhaustion, hope in the midst of despair, healing in the midst of brokenness. These Lenten practices connect us more deeply to one another, to all of creation, and to the
One who made us, called us together, and saved us.
Yes, this is the opportune time: may we “do good to all!” By our prayer, fasting, and almsgiving — by our celebration of the Sacraments of Eucharist and Reconciliation — may God heal our individual and communal wounds. As Pope Francis said, “The soil is prepared by fasting, watered by prayer and enriched by charity.” May we, by God’s grace, prepare the soil well, and may we be blessed with a fruitful Easter harvest!
Sincerely in Christ,
Most Rev. Thomas R. Zinkula
Bishop of Davenport