FRIDAY AFTER ASH WEDNESDAY
Isaiah 58: 1-9, Psalm 50, Matthew 9:14-15
In today’s first reading, the Lord tells Isaiah to shout to the house of Jacob, to tell them their sins. They seek Him, they long to know His ways, His laws and above all, they want God to draw near to them. They seek all these things with fasting and penance.
I think most of us do the same today. But what does God say to them and to us? You oppress those that are under you. You make people know that you are giving alms. God is saying that this is not the type of fast that pleases Him.
God is telling us to be more loving in all our ways. God is telling us that the type of fast that pleases Him is when we have BENEVOLENCE, which leads us to love others for themselves, independently of subjective interest.
In the Gospel, John’s disciples are also concerned with fasting. They even go to Jesus to ask Him why his disciples do not fast. Look at Jesus’ response: ”Surely the bridegroom’s attendants would never think of mourning as long as the bridegroom is still with them?” Jesus’ way is LOVE and MERCY. If there is love and mercy in our hearts, we will not lack intimacy with God. We must also love inclusively, just as Jesus does, because we all are precious in His eyes. Our friendship with Him should lead us to look with His eyes; to suffer in His suffering and rejoice in His joy. Seeing from His viewpoint, we will offer ourselves to work with Him for the good of all our brothers and sisters, rather than judging or oppressing them. That is what this Year of Mercy is about.