Today’s readings all mention fasting or sacrifice, which seems particularly appropriate for a Friday in Lent. The readings in Lent, beginning with Ash Wednesday, often mention fasting, and many people choose to fast as part of their observance of the season. In the reading from Matthew, Jesus does not condemn fasting, and we know that he too fasted while in the wilderness, and likely on other occasions as an observant Jew. What strikes me in particular in the reading from Isaiah is that God does not want a fast that is only an outward observance. Instead, God calls us to a fast that results in sharing bread with the hungry and caring for the homeless.
Outward signs are important in our tradition. The beauty of the liturgy is one thing that drew me to the Episcopal Church. But to become sacramental, the outward sign should point to an inward grace. I’ll try to remember this if I choose to give up meat on Fridays this Lent.