Friday, March 8, 2019
Today, in Mercy, Isaiah “cries out, full throated and unsparingly”, to call the Israelites’ attention to their sins. He delivers God’s message that, despite all their showy religious efforts, they have missed the whole point.
Both Isaiah and Jesus, in today’s passages, challenge their listeners about the purpose of fasting. They call us to use fasting as a tool to focus our hearts and minds on the presence of God in our daily lives.
Isaiah indicates that we will encounter God’s presence in our exercise of the works of mercy:
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.
I was told a story once about an older Sister whom I never knew. She had died before I entered the community. But her beloved memory lived on because of her vibrant personality and deep spirituality. One day, greatly at peace with her declining health, she left her friends with this question:
What would it be like
to get to the end of your life
and realize you had missed the whole point?
Our readings today want to save us from any such realization. They want us to get the point right now that God desires mercy and goodness not empty ritual and pretensive sacrifice.
Only then, God says, “shall your light break forth like the dawn,
and your wound shall quickly be healed.”
Music: No Sacrifice ~ Jason Upton