Friday 8 March 2019

About Today Readings

ST JOHN OF GOD. DAY OF PENANCE.

Isaiah 58:1-9. Psalm 50(51):3-6, 18-19. Matthew 9:14-15.

A broken, humbled heart, O God, you will not scorn – Psalm 50(51):3-6, 18-19. 

‘Surely the bridegroom’s attendants cannot mourn while the bridegroom is still with them?’

Jesus counters the criticism that his disciples do not fast. There will be time for fasting later, he says, when he is no longer with them.

The reading from Isaiah may seem a little puzzling. Is Isaiah discouraging fasting? ‘On your fast day you carry out your own pursuits. Your fast ends in quarrelling and fighting.’ This is what he condemns – a mere external observance.

‘This, rather, is the fasting I wish: releasing those bound unjustly; setting free the oppressed; sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the homeless; clothing the naked …’ The goal of fasting is to break excessive attachment to material gratification so that we are more free to love God and our neighbour.

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