40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday after Ash Wednesday, 04 March 2022
Isaiah 58:1-9 ><]]]]'> + <'[[[[>< Matthew 9:14-15
Thank you for this gift of first Friday
in March, a Friday after Ash Wednesday
as we begin our 40 day journey of Lent;
forgive us, dear God our Father, that
gone are the days when we your children
religiously observed fasting and abstinence;
we have ceased fasting not only on the
prescribed days of Ash Wednesday
and Good Friday but even before receiving
the Holy Communion in the Sunday Mass,
making all kinds of excuses with bold claims
of having sacrificed so much in doing "good deeds"
that we need not fast from food anymore.
Make us realize these are the same mistakes
of the people in the Old Testament
of having themselves as the focus of fasting
than you, O God, through others:
“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.
Would that today you might fast
so as to make your voice heard on high!”
In this age of affluence even in the midst
of a pandemic, make us realize, Lord Jesus
your mystery of Incarnation through "kenosis" -
of self-emptying which is what fasting is all about.
Teach us not to be always adequate, not to be
too self-sufficient that we forget the value of
being empty and in need of others and most
especially of you; let us rediscover this Lent
the beauty of denying ourselves of things
that give us pleasures and comfort
that we forget you and others; may we realize
that it is only in emptiness through fasting
that you can fill us with yourself, almighty God;
it is only in emptiness through fasting
we can learn to truly trust and believe
in you, dear Lord, as our only strength
Surprise us, O Lord, of the many
benefits of self-denial, primary of
which is becoming better persons
without us really knowing it and most
of all, unconsciously becoming your
very presence among other people:
“Then your light shall break forth
like the dawn, and your wound
shall quickly be healed; your vindication
shall go before you,
and the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer,
you shall cry for help,
and he will say, Here I am!”
How wonderful it is
when eventually we become
your presence, O God,
speaking through us,
saying, “Here I am”! for it is
only then your Son Jesus
is indeed the groom celebrating
with us. Amen.