"Why do we fast, but you do not see? Why humble ourselves, but
you do not notice." Look, you serve your own interest on your
fast day, and oppress all your workers. Look, you fast only to
quarrel and to fight and to strike with a wicked fist. Such fasting
as you do today will not make your voice heard on high. Is such a
fast that I choose, a day to humble oneself? Is it to bow down the head
like a bulrush, and to lie in sackcloth and ashes? Will you call this a fast?
Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, and to
undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break
every yoke. Is it not to share your bread to the hungry, and bring the
homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and
not to hide yourself from your own kin? Then your light shall break forth
like a dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly, your vindicator
shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call and the Lord will answer; then you shall cry for help,
and he will say, Here I am.
Isa 58: 3-9
Salvation Army at work in Manhattan; distributing food to the needy.pic credit: www.salvationarmyusa.org Thanks. New World
* This is a timely reflection on the period of Lent: prayer, repentance and
works of mercy. It is a norm that one has to love and praise God unceasingly!
Of course, this is the essence of the first and greatest commandment, "Love God
with all of your heart, mind and soul." Yet, abiding by this commandment will
be nullified if one will not love one's neighbour and if one does not fast rightly!
Sometimes, we proclaim to the world how we love God yet we lose the very essence
of true humanity. It is the Lord who speaks through the great prophet Isaiah. The fast
that the Lord requires is not the rituals and formalities. It is the straightforward loosing of
the bonds of injustice. Have we oppressed or maltreated our brothers and sisters? Have
we not responded to the injustice done in our society? Have we helped in the rejection of
the forces of evil and injustice as abortion (an injustice to the unborn), racism (an injustice to the common people), euthanasia (an injustice to the human right to live), overtaxation (an
injustice to the poor) and many more.
Have we shared the wealth gifted by the Lord to the poor of our locality or even to the
poor children of the world? Even the sharing of one's clothes to the barren and the
welcoming of the homeless and the stranger are pleasing in the eyes of God! Yes, pleasing
not in the eyes of men, not in the edification of our honor and popularity but a simple
fasting for the glory of God!
Then, the God of the Most High will answer our prayers because we have pleased him
We have also asked for the grace of God to be enlightened. Only through God's
grace will all of this be possible, not by our own merits but only through His mercy, love
by Maria Cassia Austero