Today’s daily homily March 8,
“Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high. Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a man to humble himself?” (Isaiah 58:4-5)
Today, we are challenged to rise up to a new virtue; the virtue of authenticity. Live life, not a show. Too often we do things not necessarily because we are convinced, but simply because of what people will say or think about us. We are always trying to please the crowd, always trying to look good, always trying to be popular. In the end, we neither please God nor even ourselves.
Jesus already told us on Ash Wednesday, “Beware of practicing your piety before men in other to be seen by them for by so doing you will have no reward in heaven.” It is one thing to practice piety that is not secretive, but a different thing altogether when the whole essence of that pious act is just to attract people’s attention to yourself. This is what Jesus is condemning.
The disciples of John asked Jesus: “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” It is either Jesus had taught His disciples to fast without anyone knowing it or they were actually not fasting. In any case, by not fasting, Jesus dared to challenge the already existing tradition not minding what the people would think. Jesus always did the right thing regardless of whether or not it would attract the attention of the people.
By refusing to fast, Jesus used the occasion to teach us deeper about the whole essence of fasting. Fasting is something that draws us closer to God. The disciples didn’t need to fast as God was right there with them. Jesus is the bridegroom whose presence negated the need for fasting.
Nevertheless, we must bear in mind that fasting is completely useless when it is accompanied by evil deeds, acts of injustice, quarrelling and fighting. Isaiah says: “Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers. Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high” (Isaiah 58:3-4).
The type of fasting that pleases God as Isaiah today teaches is “to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, to break every yoke… to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him” (Isaiah 58:6-7).
The best fast is not deprivation from food, neither is it a matter of carrying long faces; the best fast is the practice of the corporal works of mercy. Fasting is stepping out of your comfort zone to enter the world of the poor, the lonely, the oppressed, those who have nowhere to stay or cannot afford to buy clothes.
Don’t be a crowd-pleaser. Don’t do things just because everyone is doing it. Forget about what people would think or say; just be a Christian.
Let us Pray: Lord Jesus, give me the courage to stand up and do what is right at all times even if it means losing face with the crowd, Amen!
Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Friday after Ash Wednesday. Bible Study: Isaiah 58:1-9, Psalm 51, and Matthew 9:14-15).