Saturday, February 16, 2013

Isaiah 58: “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? 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.” Charity has been called the perfection of all other virtues, because without it no other virtue matters. Saint Paul sought to teach us a “more excellent way” and concluded that among the things that endure, the greatest is love. More startlingly, Jesus provided only one set of criteria for the final judgment: “You saw me naked and clothed me, hungry and fed me, in prison and you visited me…”

If our spiritual discipline of Lent is focused on ourselves (“Lord, see how good I am by giving up [insert something here]”) we’re falling short. The fasting that God wishes is that we get outside of ourselves and see the plight of those treated unjustly… and then do something about it! The spiritual disciplines of Lent (prayer, fasting, and almsgiving) are powerful practices to allow us to strip ourselves of self-centeredness and pride, a hollow dependence on self and narrow preoccupation on my own needs. If we do something in Lent for the Lord to notice (me, me, me) then we have our polarity reversed, because Lent should lead us humbly to God saying, “You, You, You.”

February 16, 2013
Msgr. William J. King

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