Friday after Ash Wednesday
The first reading for today is poignant, especially in light of what is being called the “modern era civil rights movement” in our country. The Lord speaks clearly and directly. He calls to us and, with no ambiguity or question, lays out what He wishes for our fast. Release those bound unjustly. Set free the oppressed. Share your bread with the hungry. Clothe the naked. Do not turn your back on your own. Our Lord is urging us to fight for change with these beautiful messages and highlights them in direct contrast to our earthly fasts—a day of penance, bowing our heads, donning sackcloth. We need our own personal, internal conversion and fast, but it cannot stop there. It must be expressed through mindful action and care of those in need. Our nation, our world, is crying out for these heavenly fasts just as a newborn cries out for its mother’s life-giving breast milk.
God promises us that if we perform the fasting that He wishes—our wounds will be quickly healed. In a world that is wounded, we must trust in and work towards this promise. The wounds of racism, violence, and sexism can and will be healed by our trust in God’s love. It is only by God’s fast that we come closer to peace; we must drop our earthly desires and pleasures. “Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer, you shall cry for help, and He will say: Here I am!” Here we are, Lord. Your people have made Lenten promises to You …and we are ready to fast.
Oh Lord our God, help us to hear and understand Your call to fast in our hearts. Help us to set free the oppressed and not turn our back on our own. May we look forward to the day when our cries for help are answered. Here we are, Lord. Amen.
Eliza McDonald, ’17
First Reading: Isaiah 58:1-9a
Psalm 51:3-6a, 18-19
Gospel: Matthew 9:14-15
Daily Scripture readings can be found online at the USCCB website