Scripture: 1st Reading: Is58,1-9; Resp. Psalm: Ps51,3-6,18-19; Gosp. Accl.: Amos5,14; Gospel: Mt9,14-15
Lenten fast cannot be effective if they are not accompanied by concrete actions in favour of the neighbour. Our Lent is meant to restore unity in us and within destroyed humanity. Our Lenten fast is meant to cleanse us of selfishness and make us open to the sufferings and needs of others. When it does not translate into good deeds, it is simply useless spiritually.
Yahweh told Isaiah to declare to the people who fast their transgressions. They fasted but were full of iniquities. They fasted as external show but their hearts were full of unrighteousness and iniquities. Some of these were: seeking their own pleasure all the time; oppressing those who worked for them; quarrel and fight. In other words, they fasted but still continued the evil ways they led their lives before.
Yahweh made it clear that true fasting must be accompanied with positive actions that demonstrate commitment to God and neighbour: "to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke." True fasting includes sharing our bread with the hungry, bringing the homeless poor into our house, covering the naked.
Our fast must therefore be of benefit to humanity. It must express itself in concrete acts that impact on the lives of others. If we do that, our light shall break forth like the dawn, our healing shall spring up speedily, our righteousness shall go before us and the glory of the Lord shall be our reward guard. Then when we call on God, He will answer us.
Our Lord in the gospel passage today told His disciples that they needed not fast since He was physically with them. The time for fast was when He would be taken away from them. This is the time to fast, therefore, to subjugate our bodies to respond and obey our spirits. May God accept our Lenten fast. May we through this fast be responsive to the needs of our neighbours. Today is Friday. Do not forget the stations of the cross.
Let us pray: "Show gracious favour, O Lord, we pray, to the works of penance we have begun, that we may have strength to accomplish with sincerity the bodily observances we undertake." Amen.
May the Living Word of God find a true dwelling place within our hearts and souls today and always. Rev. Fr. Anthony Igbekele