Shout out, do not hold back! Lift up your voice like a trumpet! Announce to my people their rebellion, to the house of Jacob their sins. Yet day after day they seek me and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness and did not forsake the ordinance of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments, they delight to draw near to God.
“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 the 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, a day acceptable to the Lord? Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, 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 with 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 the 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; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am. If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Today is the first Friday of Lent and I imagine that many of us may still be deciding how best to fast and prepare ourselves to join Christ triumphant over sin. There are many different recommendations that can guide our decision to walk with Jesus this Lent. Some of these involve regular practices of self-discipline that can deepen my spiritual life as I seek to imitate Christ more closely.
Isaiah reminds us how important fasting is for today´s world. Beyond the radical observance of this tradition, our fasting offers a means of liberation and compassion. “This is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; Setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke.”
What if today we change our viewpoint? What if I examine my pessimism and dissatisfaction in order to recover the enthusiasm I have as a believer in Jesus Christ? What if our Lenten sign to others is our confidence that God leads and guides our lives with his joy and hope?
—Fr. Hugo Nelson Gomez-Sevilla is a Jesuit from Colombia, currently pursuing graduate studies in educational leadership at Loyola University Chicago.
I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security.
I do not want a Church concerned with being at the center and then ends by being caught up in a web of obsessions and procedures.
—Pope Francis, “The Joy of the Gospel,” November 2013.Please share the Good Word with your friends!