Friday after Ash Wednesday
Isaiah really packs a punch in the first reading for today. I could spend an entire Lent with his words. He says, “would that today you might fast so as to make your voice heard on high! This…is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the 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.”
Um, nowhere does it mention giving up chocolate!
Before we dismiss Isaiah and go back to our food fasts, our technology fasts, we have made for ourselves, let us reconsider what kind of fast God may be asking of us this year. We are barely 3 days in, there is plenty of time for reconsideration!
Releasing those bound unjustly. What if I stopped being judgmental this Lent? Who have I put in a box, marginalized, written off? Maybe I should unbind them and practice compassion.
Untying the thongs of the yoke. What if I stood up to my friends, even my church friends, when they malign people of different races or the LGBTQ community? If I do not tolerate micro-aggression, I am helping to get rid of the yoke of our oppression.
Sharing your bread with the hungry. Who is hungry in our circle of influence? Are they physically hungry, emotionally hungry? What can we do about it?
Sheltering the oppressed and the homeless. Can we stop worrying over our own comforts so much? Can we think instead of all of the blessings we possess and then open our hearts and wallets to those in need?
Clothing the naked when you see them. How many clothes in your closet, or your kids’ closets, are not being worn? Can you donate clothing in good condition so that others will be warm?
Not turning your back on your own. Sometimes it can be hardest to notice need in those closest to you. If you listen, you may hear that your nearest relatives or their kids, could really use a hand. Send them a grocery or gas gift card anonymously, or drop some cash under their door. Taking care of our own is our duty!
Isaiah’s words are difficult to think about, but they deserve our reflection. If we are to make any progress this Lent, we must do some hard things, climb a few of those internal mountains, topple our outdated beliefs.
Join me in re-evaluating Lenten practices for this year. Let’s see if our Lenten fasts can make a difference for someone else, and bless us in the end as well.
“Then your light shall break forth like the dawn!”