40 Shades of Lent, Friday after Ash Wednesday, 28 February 2020
Isaiah 58:1-9 +++ 0 +++ Matthew 9:14-15
Have mercy on us, O God, have mercy… for we are still totally lost on the real meaning of fasting and abstinence. We have lost its spiritual meaning, focusing more on ourselves for vanity reasons like losing weight and looking good, totally forgetting fasting is all about you and others than us!
How unfortunate, dear God, that we no longer fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday but even on Sundays before receiving your Son Jesus in the Holy Communion by making all kinds of excuses with bold claims of having sacrificed so much in doing good deeds for you.
Thus says the Lord God: Cry out full-throated and unsparingly, lift up your voice like a trumpet blast. Tell my people their wickedness, and the house of Jacob their sins. They seek me day after day, and desire to know my ways, like a nation that has done what is just and not abandoned the law of their God. They ask me to declare what is due them, pleased to gain access to God. “Why do we fast, and you do not see it? Afflict ourselves, and you take no note of it?” Lo, on your fast day you carry out your own pursuits, and drive all your laborers. Yes, your fast ends in quarreling and fighting, striking with wicked claw. This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own.”Isaiah 58:1-4, 6-7
Make us realize that fasting is not punishing ourselves, of denying ourselves with goods and pleasures of the world that leave us empty, wanting for more but never fulfilled deep inside.
Fasting is actually rewarding ourselves with you, O God, our only wealth and treasure, our only fulfillment.
Help us create an empty space within ourselves through fasting and abstinence so that your Son Jesus may dwell and reign in our hearts, saying from within us, “Here I am!” (Is. 58:9). Amen.