A Prayer for Lent by Cesar Chavez

by Christine Sine

Today’s Lenten prayer comes from Cesar Chavez (1927 – 1993) – Mexican American farm worker, labour leader and civil rights activist. He did much to raise awareness of the need for justice for those at the margins and it seemed very much in keeping with my post this morning about homelessness.

This was a great place to start my personal reflections this morning. Here are a couple of powerful quotes from Cesar Chavez writings that highlight this concern. I suggest that you read through these several times reflecting on your own commitment to justice and acceptance then read the prayer at the end aloud.

“We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community… Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others for their sake and for our own. “

“Social justice… you see… the oppressors always underestimate the oppressed and the oppressed almost always overestimate the oppressor.”

The following prayer comes from the Mosaic Bible whose meditations have really nourished my soul throughout Lent in past years.

Show me the suffering of the most miserable
So I will know my people’s plight
Free me to pray for others;
For you are present in every person
Help me to take responsibility for my own life;
So that I can be free at last.
Give me honesty and patience;
So that I can work with other workers.
Bring forth song and celebration;
So that the Spirit will be alive among us.
Let the Spirit flourish and grow;
So that we will never tire of the struggle.
Let us remember those who have died for justice;
For they have given us life.
Help us love even those who hate us;
So we can change the world.

After reading Chavez’s prayer this morning I read Psalm 99 which talks about God in these words:

Mighty King, lover of justice,
You have established fairness.
You have acted with justice
and righteousness throughout Israel
Exalt the Lord our God!
Bow low before his feet, for he is holy! (Psalm 99:4,5)

The question I grapple with as I read this and reflect on how I make a difference in the lives of others is Where do I establish fairness and act with justice in my life today?

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