And so this text of Isaiah comes to us, here chosen by the Church as a significant word for us to contemplate as we begin Lent. So how can we understand it? Do we ourselves actually quarrel and fight, "striking with wicked claw" and all the rest? I think that Isaiah's accusation touches few of us personally and deeply as we read it, but if we look instead at what he calls us to do in the place of such behavior we might better grasp what he is getting at: untying the thongs of the yoke, setting free the oppressed, etc.
We are immensely rich people, even if we have nothing in the bank: we have our God, our faith, our time, our attention, and our thoughtful caring. All of us have people whom we live with, people whom we work with, people we come in contact with regularly, but how well do we know them? How truly do we share our wealth and our selves with them? How often do we invite them to share their pains with us, their loneliness, their cares? Just knowing that we care enough to ask and to listen, to remember what they have revealed to us of their private selves, is often enough to ease their sense of abandonment, to release them from their prisons if even for a moment.
Our greatest wealth is our knowledge of God and his love for us; our greatest fasting, the one I think the Lord wishes, is our breaking open the prisons of silence we too often force those around us to live in, is our proclaiming the love of God with our own care for our brothers and sisters.
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