February 20, 2015 Isaiah 58:1-9a; Matthew 9:14-15
Both readings today speak to the theme of fasting. After all … it is Lent … and fasting is a word we hear often in relationship to this season in the church year.
I read this passage over and over … and even out loud. It is incredibly powerful.
What intrigued me was the broadening of the dimension of fasting that Isaiah proclaims. Sometimes we think of fasting as “giving up” … and often it is a food item. Pizza, chocolate, chips, alcohol … you name it! Nothing wrong with that at all!
But … the scripture really digs down to the heart of our spiritual being. We are presented with a shift from a simple … casual … personal way of fasting … to a call to a deeper … positive … action filled way of fasting that involves looking into our very core and reshaping what we see as a fast.
Isaiah talks about releasing people from bondage … and maybe we hold someone in bondage by not allowing them the space to grow and change.
Isaiah talks about sharing bread with the hungry … and maybe we need to feed those in need with our generosity of time or kindnesses.
Isaiah talks about clothing the naked … and maybe we could find a way to be more generous with our comforting words to those who are stripped of their confidence or self-esteem.
So … today’s first reading turns fasting from an inward … personal and physical focus … to a more outward … a more spiritual focus that can be even more demanding than a physical deprivation.
As we journey through Lent … may we broaden our perspectives to see Lent not just as a giving up … but also as a lifting up in prayer and a taking up of charitable and kind habits … so that we may have clearer vision and growth in holiness.