A Lenten Reflection on Worker Justice
By Sarah Smoot, United Methodist Missionary serving with Interfaith Worker Justice
A pastor friend of mine likes to say that fasting should be called “slowing” because time seems to slow down when you stop eating. All that time once spent in meal preparation and eating is now empty. Ideally the extra time becomes filled with prayer and recognizing one’s need of God, noticing that God provides other forms of strength and sustenance. When your stomach starts to rumble, however, it’s hard not to watch the clock and count down the minutes to the next meal.
The lenten season of fasting is a period of prayer and self examination as we remember the brokenness of humanity that brings Christ to the cross on Good Friday. Traditionally we look to Jesus’ own 40 day fast in the wilderness as an example. During this time Jesus experiences human frailty and temptation. The scriptures tell us that Jesus was tempted throughout his wilderness fast, and at the end of 40 days he endured a series of tests by the Devil. Though Jesus’ fast weakened him physically (“He was famished,” Luke 4:2), the fast also prepared him to resist the Devil’s temptations.
The Devil presents Jesus with a series of misinterpretations of scripture and who the Messiah ought to be: lies that would be easy to believe when tired and hungry. Jesus responds, however, with clarity of the truths he knows from scripture and does not succumb to the Devil’s propositions. Rather than being tired by “slowing,” Jesus is empowered to live out the humble truths to which he is called.
This year our own lenten journey can be a time of reflection on workers and worker justice. As the national office of Interfaith Worker Justice invites us to participate in a fast from fast food, let us take this period of fasting as an opportunity to see more clearly the truths behind the fast food industry:
- As we choose not to eat fast food, may we remember that the workers’ wages afford them little choice and sometimes not enough food.
- As we choose not to eat fast food, may we notice that every job is worthy of wages that support the worker’s wellbeing.
- As we choose not to eat fast food, let us pray and lift our voices for change in the fast food industry, change that allows workers to organize without retaliation and achieve a living wage.
See Interfaith Worker Justice Executive Director, Rudy López’s call to fast from fast food.