We can help the poor by our fasting
From today's reading (Isaiah 58:1-9):
'Fasting like yours today
will never make your voice heard on high.
Is that the sort of fast that pleases me,
a truly penitential day for men?
Hanging your head like a reed,
lying down on sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call fasting,
a day acceptable to the Lord?
Is not this the sort of fast that pleases me
– it is the Lord who speaks –
to break unjust fetters and
undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and break every yoke,
to share your bread with the hungry,
and shelter the homeless poor,
to clothe the man you see to be naked
and not turn from your own kin?
Then will your light shine like the dawn
and your wound be quickly healed over.
Your integrity will go before you
and the glory of the Lord behind you.
Cry, and the Lord will answer;
call, and he will say, ‘I am here.’'
In today's reading God gives us an insight into what He expects of us, in a practical sense, when we fast.
Freeing the opressed, feeding the hungry, giving shelter to the homeless, giving clothing to those who have none. These are all practical things we can do to help others and, in turn, please God.
Yet while they are practical, they are also prayerful. What a beautiful way to pray to God; to do a great deed such as feeding a hungry person in the street or giving them warm clothes to wear.
This passage from Isaiah is very much in keeping with Pope Francis' drive to be a Church of mission where we are not afraid to become dirty and wounded in our Christian living. To not be afraid to touch the wounds of the poor, needy and sick in our world.
We are all being called to reach out to our fellow men, women and children, especially those most in need of our help. They desperately need our help, and also our love.
These are the things Jesus offers to all of us but sometimes, particularly during times of great poverty, despair and difficulty, it is hard to experience that love of Christ. And that is where we come in. We can bring that love of Christ to people through our charitable works. We can let Christ shine through us by our good deeds and love for others.