Wednesday, March 5, 2014


The prophet Isaiah sets forth a good road map for the type of fast which is pleasing to God as we begin our annual Lenten Journey:

"Lo, on your fast day you carry out your own pursuits, and drive all your laborers.  Yes, your fast ends in quarreling and fighting, striking with wicked claw.  Would that today you might fast so as to make your voice heard on high!

Is this the manner of fasting I wish, of keeping a day of penance:  That a man bow his head like a reed, and lie in sackcloth and ashes?  Do you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord?

This, rather, is the fasting that I wish:  

     releasing those bound unjustly,
     untying the thongs of the yoke;
     setting free the oppressed,
     breaking every 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.

Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed; your vindication shall go before you, and 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 from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech; if you bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted; then light shall rise for you in the darkness, and the gloom shall become for you like midday;

Then the Lord will guide you always and give you plenty even on the parched land.  He will renew your strength, and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring who water never fails.  The ancient ruins shall be rebuilt for your sake, and the foundations from ages past you shall raise up;  'Repairer of the breach,' they shall call you, 'Restorer of ruined homesteads.'"  [Isaiah 58: 1--12]