In today’s first reading, the prophet Jeremiah describes a new covenant – one which is written on our hearts. As Christians, we believe that this new covenant is fulfilled in Jesus.This week through Operation Rice Bowl, we learn about malnourished children and expectant mothers in India whose health has been compromised by their poverty. We pray that we may open our hearts to the needs of the poor and vulnerable. We fast, not merely from our excess, but from our very substance, so that new life may come to all who suffer from poverty, illness and injustice. We give so that CRS-trained health care workers can help improve the lives of women and children throughout the world.

Since 1975, Operation Rice Bowl has inspired Catholics in the United States to pray, fast, learn and give as we increase our understanding of our global community. We will connect this understanding with the principles of Catholic Social Teaching throughout our Lenten journey.

This week, let us remember in prayer that the ability to work to earn a living is a right of all people. All workers have the right to a fair wage, to organize themselves, and to work in good conditions. May our fasting keep us mindful of the workers who provide food for their families. May our almsgiving assist Catholic Relief Services as we learn about microfinance projects in Egypt.