“Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high. Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying on sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD? “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter–when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.”
Fasting that God has Chosen
What a horrible thought, that God would reject our worship and offerings and leave the building! God requires a lot more than a little bending here, a little bowing there. Real worship is more than an hour when I feel like it.
Real “fasting” starves selfishness. Fasting demands that I stop thinking about my stomach’s growls and start thinking of my God’s command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
That love breaks the chains of injustice and unties the cords of oppression. Our love for God leads us to share food, clothing and shelter with the hungry, homeless, and helpless people all around us—including our own relatives!
Then God matches his demands of selflessness with these selfless promises: (1) HEALING of body and soul–think of Jesus’ miracles; (2) SHIELDING, both fore and aft; (3) HELPING–He says words that all the sick and suffering, defeated and dying wish to hear, “I am here.”
Lord, provide us with your help and your healing. Be our shield and our rock. Then let us be for others what you have been for us so that your light shines through us. Amen.