Friday After Ash Wednesday Year A; 3rd March 2017.
Is such the fast I choose, a day for a man to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a rush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the Lord? Is not this fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to the undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free and to break every yoke? Is it not to share bread with the hungry and bring homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not you hide yourself from your own flesh?
God speaks to our hearts and minds today through Prophet Isaiah to “take it up a notch” in our ways of fasting: to loose the bonds of wickedness and be more loving as we fast, to share bread with the hungry, provide shelter for the homeless poor, to clothe the naked (Isaiah 58:6-7)-all these Corporal Works of Mercy and works of charity done with love is what is required of us this Lent. What is fasting without Mercy if not unacceptable in the Lord’s sight. So let’s not fast for ourselves, there is no “self-giving” in that. Saint John Cassian once said,
“Fasts and vigils, the study of Scripture, renouncing possessions and everything worldly are not in themselves perfection, as we have said; theyare its tools. For perfection is not to be found in them; it is acquired through them. It is useless, therefore, to boast of our fasting, vigils, poverty, and reading of Scripture when we have not achieved the love of God and our fellow men. Whoever has achieved love has God within himself and his intellect is always with God.”
It is the love of God that gives us the grace to live a life of mercy for our fellow men who are in need. So let us pray as we fast for the grace to be loving and merciful this season of Lent. Only then shall our light break forth like the dawn, our healing spring up speedily,and our righteousness go for before God who always answers His own.