Rend Your Hearts, Not Your Garments

“Rend your hearts, not your garments!” These are the challenging words of the prophet Joel that greeted Christians in churches around the world as they marked the beginning of Lent with the celebration of Ash Wednesday.

Lent—too domesticated over time—is a radical ancient invitation to reject the globalization of superficiality that too often sullies our lives and our communities and to take up a new path that celebrates authentic encounter and encourages human and societal transformation.

It’s a 40-day journey right to the heart of who we are and who we long to be.

Jesus—the great protagonist of this holy season—shows us that life and redemption aren’t achieved through strength and power but by rejecting a privileged mentality and taking up the sufferings and dysfunction within our own lives and those of the entire human family.

Every person lost and broken wears the body of the Lord.

Rend your hearts, not your garments—artificial penance without true transformation.

Rend your hearts, not your garments—a formal and fulfilled fast which continues to keep us satisfied.

Rend your hearts, not your garments—superficial and egoistic prayer, which doesn’t reach the depth of our life to allow it to be touched by God.

Lent comes to us as a cry of truth and sure hope, which answers yes, it is possible not to put on makeup and draw plastic smiles as if nothing is happening.

Yes, it is possible that everything be made new and different because God continues to be “rich in kindness and mercy, always willing to forgive,” and encourages us to begin again and again.

This Lent, we are again invited to undertake a paschal journey to new life, a journey that includes the cross and suffering, which will be uncomfortable but not sterile.

We are invited to admit that something is not right in ourselves, in society, and in the Church—to change, to turn around, to be converted.