Friday after Ash Wednesday
The social fasting
Yes, your fast ends in quarreling and fighting, striking with wicked claw. Would that today you might fast so as to make your voice heard on high! Is this the manner of fasting I wish, of keeping a day of penance: That a man bow his head like a reed, and lie in sackcloth and ashes? Do you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord? 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;Sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; Clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own. Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed; Your vindication shall go before you, and the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer, you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am! If you remove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech. Is 58,4-9
By the nowadays time the practice of the fasting for penance is not very munch fashioned. The spiritual christian path is more oriented towards prayer, meditation of the Scriptures and the eucharist. According to our opinion, without neglecting the latter, it would be a good thing also to renew the practice of fasting, not only as a waiver to the food, but as a rule of life. The spirit of the fasting, however – there Isaiah says today – should not be a turning back in ourselves, as if we would be the only beings existing in the world, but – on the contrary – it would be a social openness towards those most in need. The saving, as the result of choices made with a true spirit of moderation, should be donated to the poor people, which, in the practice of fasting, are all too much used, despite themselves. If you take this habit, which we have not yet, our fasting will become that way of living the faith, of which Jesus speaks when he explains how the last judgment will be: “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared of me, in prison and you visited me” (Mt 25,35-36). Today Isaiah anticipates which it will be the criteria of the last judgment announced by Jesus and he proposes to us the social fasting as a rule of life: “releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; setting free the oppressed; sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; clothing the naked when you see them….”. If we accept the call of Isaiah to experience the fasting with this style, we will discover the mystery of the life and the secret of the joy and also we will discover that the Lord will not be overpowered by no one in generosity. He will always answer: “Here I am!”.