Out of season

Doesn’t it feel like something is missing right now? It’s past the middle of February and we are not yet in Lent. On Fridays I feel like I need to check myself, assuring that I’m not required to abstain from meat. Doesn’t it feel strange?

For some it may be a relief not to have to think about what to give up yet or following the rules set out for the penitential season. But for those who feel like they should be giving up the second cup of coffee or not eating meat on Fridays, I ask you, why not do it? Just because you don’t have to do it yet doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to do it. Maybe offer it up for the priest(s) of your parish, or for vocations from the youth of the parish. Offer it up for the legislators of our country or those of struggling nations. Offer it up for your family, no matter what size, shape, or combination of members that it contains. There are a thousand ways to offer up a little sacrifice, whether it is once a day or once a week; it all counts.

So what can God do with the little offering you make? Well, if the feeding of the 5,000 with a few loaves resulting in baskets of leftovers are any indication, He can do quite a bit with very little! For us humans, the hard part is that we don’t often get to see how we are making a difference. We hope we are, and we try and trust that we are, but we really don’t know how much of an impact our actions make. That’s when we need to remind ourselves that it is an offering; we are giving of ourselves to God so that He, in some way, will bless those for whom we make the offering. We’re not placing an order for Him to do something specific, but letting God in His abundance of Love, touch the lives in a special way. We offer and let go.

While God does not need us to perform acts of sacrifice, He does rejoice when they are freely given. We may be surprised that in making such an offering, the one who is blessed may be us! Perhaps in starting to make sacrifices now, our Lenten practices may take on a different meaning or have a deeper impact than in previous years. In the few weeks left of ordinary time, consider challenging yourself, even if it’s not yet the penitential season.

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