Lent and simple sacrifice

The season of Lent, which began with Ash Wednesday, is a time of sacrifice. It is a time in which Christians focus on the ultimate sacrifice made by Jesus.
The sacrifices of Lent — both his 40 days in the desert and ours — are difficult, but not complex. For Jesus, we read, the fasting and prayer was in preparation for a short life of sacrificial service.
Christians believe Jesus went on to serve others unreservedly. He sacrificed for and served others with the utmost simplicity. They were ill and he healed them. They were hungry and he fed them.
In our 21st Century sophistication, we increasingly spurn such simplicity. Healing the sick, we convince ourselves, can lead to unhealthy lifestyles and can degrade medical excellence. Feeding the hungry creates dependence and destroys fragile economic incentives. Providing life-sustaining service to the wrong people can cause them to come to us in excessive numbers, instead of staying in their own countries. Giving food to the hungry can encourage their drug habits.
The complexities we impose on service invariably reduce the extent of our sacrifice. By refraining from healing and feeding, we reduce our taxes. We create a tidy package in which failure to help the needy benefits both them and us.
There are complexities in running a state and nation, but we should guard against rationalizations.
Lent is a reminder that the purest sacrifice is also the simplest. The Jesus that Christians honor at Lent was unconditional in his love and in his assistance to those in need.

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1 Comment

Filed under Conservatism, Health care, Religion

One response to “Lent and simple sacrifice

  1. Kevin C. Moore

    It took me a long time to understand this post. Healing the sick can “lead to unhealthy lifestyles” ? Giving food to the hungry can “encourage drug habits” ? “By refraining from healing and feeding, we reduce our taxes” ? I did not understand the cause-and-effect reasoning of your strawman at first.
    But then I realized that you are fundamentally distorting Christ’s message. He says that the corporal works of mercy are things that you and I should be doing. He never advocated the use of force. He did indeed advocate sacrifice – the exact opposite of taxation.

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