In today’s first reading, Isaiah 58: 1-9a, the prophet puts forth challenges concerning our fasting. We may give up this or that, priding ourselves on all that we are sacrificing while continuing our “quarreling and fighting, striking with wicked claw.” “The fasting,” which the Lord wants, Isaiah tells us, is “releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; setting free the oppressed and the homeless; clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own.” Who am I, for instance, holding in the bonds of oppression: not talking to them, not acknowledging their presence, holding a grudge against them, gossiping about them, withholding forgiveness? Who within my family am I scorning? With whom, in my family, am I fed up and about whom I am saying: “I’ve had enough of your _______________________"? Have I treated anyone unjustly? Have I damaged relationships by being selfish, deceitful or jealous?
With whom do I need to reconcile? How might I improve relationships with those with whom I live the closest? How might I make a difference in my marriage, in my relationship with my children or grandchildren, nieces and nephews, in-laws, in my relationship with my fellow religious or fellow priests and/or religious brothers, with the priests serving in my parish?
When we fast from that which makes life difficult for others, then, Isaiah tells us, “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 [God] will say: Here I am!”
What are you doing special during this Lenten season that corresponds to what the Lord wants of you?