Saturday, February 20, 2010

How to Fast

As I ponder fasting, abstinence and "giving up" things for Lent, I am given insight in Friday's first reading:  Isaiah 58:6-7:  "This, rather, is the fasting that I wish:  releasing those bound unjustly...setting free the oppressed...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."

These seem to be very clear instructions.  God is telling Isaiah to tell the people that it is not sackcloth and ashes he requires, but for them to care for each other.  Strive for fairness, free the oppressed, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, take care of your family, friends, community.  All these things I should be doing all the time, now is the time to really focus on them.  To make it a habit once again.  Maybe it will be working at a food bank or soup kitchen; maybe packing an extra sandwich and giving it to the panhandler who approaches me in the parking lot at Walmart.  Sacrificing my own agenda to help provide care for the friend or relative who is facing the prospects of a nursing home.  Offering temporary room and board to friends or family trying to get back on their feet.

I could get worried about being taken advantage of;  yet what did our Lord do but give His very life for me?  He asks me let go of my anxiety and just trust Him.  The funniest part is that when I start to give I am the one who receives the most benefit;  I think I have a clearer idea of what I"m supposed to be doing now.

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