Thu, 18 February 2021
(Is.58:1-9; Ps.51:3-6,18-19; Mt.9:14-15)
“Would that today you might fast
so as to make your voice heard on high!”
Brothers and sisters, in this day of fasting and penance, first we must “acknowledge [our] offense” as David in our psalm. We must cry out to our God: “Against you only have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight.” This is our leaven of truth. “A contrite spirit, a heart contrite and humbled” the Lord cannot resist. It is this heart the Lord answers; it is prayer of this soul He hears – to this “cry for help… He will say: Here I am!”
“When the day comes that the groom is taken away, then they will fast.” We “go in mourning” when Jesus is no longer in our midst. What does this then say of our fast? For though the Lord may be with us always in the power of the Spirit, yet He is physically taken from us now till the end of time. Our fast must therefore be a permanent condition all the while we walk this earth. And so true is this if we understand the Lord’s definition of a fast as revealed in our first reading from Isaiah: “This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly… sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless, clothing the naked… and not turning your back on your own.” And what sense it makes that this be our fast now that Jesus is gone, for are we not His children here, called to carry out His mission in this world? Are not these the very things He instructs us to do in His stead for the least of His brothers who suffer now? On this earth here at the end of the age we should be engaged in fasting always.
And if we pray with a sincere heart, and if we do the will of the Lord in all things, what promise He makes to us: “Your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed… The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.” All we ask shall be given us; all we seek we shall find in Him. And so, what shall our fasting be for us but pure joy, even as we become one with the Lord our God?
A blessed call is upon us now, one which makes our voices known to Him. Let us “remove from [our] midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech.” Let us denounce any “quarreling and fighting” that keeps us from Him, and see that His will is done in our lives. Then indeed He shall hear us; then by this death to sin we shall come to the glory of our God.
O LORD, what can we do but fast
now that your Son has been taken from us? –
let us do His work, stand in His stead,
laying down our lives for all in need.
YHWH, your Son has been taken from us, and so, on this day we fast. He no longer walks among us, and so we must be as His presence. We must free the oppressed and feed the hungry, doing the works He did while He was in our midst. And if we do this, we shall be pleasing in your sight, as He was, and so be blessed.
With a contrite heart let us come to you, O LORD, recognizing our faults and failures to serve you as we ought. Instead of laying down our lives in humble service of those in need of your Word and your Bread, we have spoken ill of our brother and been oppressors ourselves. And so, any offering we have made has been in vain. And so we have but served to separate ourselves from you and your compassion.
O LORD, let us not continue blind to our wickedness but seek each day to convert our hearts to your call to be as your Son and live His way of sacrifice for the sake of others.