Lent 26

Day 26: Megan McKenna

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Megan McKenna: The fast I want
This is the fast that I want—a fast from violence, to do no harm, have no tolerance for war, and to resist by living with passionate devotion to the Word made flesh in all peoples’ flesh. I want you to fast from all that causes disrespect, disregard, dissension and despair, arrogance, derision, scorn, and a feeling of self-righteousness. We are to remember that the word enemy is just another name for what we once were with God, but we now have been embraced in Jesus’ Passion, death, and Resurrection. The death of Jesus is the ultimate and extreme expression of the peace of passion spent totally.

This is the foundation of other practices. This is the peace of Christ, pax Christi. Begin by “denying your very self” (Mark 8) so you won’t deny Christ’s peace or do harm or violence to anyone; instead, bow before others, bow down to your knees and serve and give your life as a ransom for many.

This is what it means to be kin to Jesus, to be a disciple. We vow to live under no sign of power but the sign of the cross. So we vow—to practice forgiveness, amnesty, reconciliation, mercy, love of our enemies, to love one another as we have been loved by God in Jesus, to live “at-one-ment,” to live free from fear and hate, and to do no violence and to harm no one or the earth.

This Lent we are summoned to “lower our standards,” which originally meant to “put down our arms.” The cards that image the peaceable kingdom of Christmas must become reality in Lent—where the lion and the wolf lie down with the lamb and the child sits by the adder’s lair (Isaiah 11:6–9), the sign of the peace of God among us.

Some practical suggestions: 1) Pray for those you still name-call enemies; 2) Pray for those who insist on using war to react to problems around the world or to deal with their sense of fear and anger in retaliation to others’ actions; 3) Join Pax Christi USA, the Catholic Church’s international peace movement; 4) Practice regard for strangers, foreigners, immigrants, and others in our society; and 5) Sign yourself with the sign of the cross and reflect upon that power of the peace of Christ.

Let us walk in this way, the way of the cross, the way of peace and nonviolence. And then comes Easter: “Under cherry trees there are no strangers” (Kobayashi Issa), and under the cross there are no enemies, all are found to be the friends of God. We pray to live “in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

McKenna is a writer, storyteller, preacher, and ambassador of peace for Pax Christi USA.