March 4, 2022
by Gladyce Janky
Creighton University's Business and Law
click here for photo and information about the writer

Friday after Ash Wednesday
Lectionary: 221

Isaiah 58:1-9a
Psalm 51:3-4, 5-6ab, 18-19
Matthew 9:14-15

The Invitation of Lent

How Come I Fear Lent?

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Cooking Lent
Recipes for all the Fridays of Lent and for Good Friday

I notice similarities between myself and the people to whom God sent Isaiah in today’s reading.  I seek God, day after day, desiring to know His ways (Is 58:2).  The Israelites complain and perhaps “scold” God for not noticing their fasting.  I sometimes wonder if God is listening to me.

 Isaiah tells the people that God does not want a day of fasting while treating others unjustly (driving the laborers) and resorting to fighting and quarreling to get what they want when the fast is over.  If this is how I engage in fasting, the action is about me,  not about expressing my love for God and my neighbors.      
Isaiah offers a description of the fasting God desires. 

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; (Is 58:6)          

I hear in this verse very little about fasting from food.  Instead, I hear a call to “fast” from placing heavy burdens on others or treating them unjustly.  I hear a call to share what I have with others in need of the necessities of life.  I hear a call to speak up for the marginalized and to stand as an accomplice of those working to end the yoke of systemic racism.  I hear a call not to forget the suffering of the Ukrainian people.  I hear a call to pray and take whatever actions I can take within the concrete realities of my life to ease the world’s sufferings.

So, as I move through this Lent, I will seek to keep my focus on what God wants for me and the whole of humanity.  In doing so, I trust that God will not ignore me or find fault in my “fasting” but grants me a contrite spirit and open heart, mind, and soul listening for God’s call.      

My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit (Ps 51:19)

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