February 19, 2021
Friday after Ash Wednesday
Not So Fast!
Do you call this a fast…?
Isaiah 58:5

God’s stinging rebuke of Israel’s false piety redefines the very notion of fasting. “On your fast day, you carry out your own pursuits” (verse 3). Penance itself is repellent: “Is this the manner of fasting” I would choose? (verse 5). Afflicting oneself, bowing your head, sackcloth and ashes? No! For our God, fasting means a feast of freedom for the oppressed, “releasing those bound unjustly” (verse 6). Maybe that is why the liturgy calls Lent “this joyful season.” A big parish fish-fry may seem hardly penitential, but the festivity of it all—welcoming neighbors near and far, any faith, any style, any smile—must be dear to the heart of God, who promised Israel, once they released every unjust or oppressive yoke: “Then your light shall break forth like the dawn” (verse 8).

- Miguel Dulick

Isaiah 58:1-9a • Psalm 51:3-6, 18-19 Matthew 9:14-15
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