Today it’s Isaiah whose message rings loudly in my ears with the same focus: go deeper! Get to the heart of things. He’s talking about fasting and the dissatisfaction of the people with God’s response – or lack thereof – to their practice. They want their reward. But God is more concerned with the lack of depth in their spiritual lives because, even while they fast, they mistreat their laborers and fight among themselves. They just don’t get it. So once again they – and we – get a lesson on what it means to “fast from the heart.” It’s a truly moving and inspired passage. (Is 58:1-9a) Read it aloud, if you will, with gusto!
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. Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed; your vindication shall go before you and the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help and God will say: Here I am!