The readings from Isaiah and Matthew speak of fasting and sacrifice. As young children, we learn about Lenten fasting as the discipline of “giving something up” for forty days, preferably something we love so as to make the sacrifice that much more of a challenge and, thus, more meaningful. As we mature however, we begin to appreciate fasting in a deeper, more all-encompassing way. We learn that Jesus does not want us to fast for the purpose of gaining recognition and the admiration of others, nor does he wish us to fast only as an act of denial. Rather, Jesus would choose for our fasting to be an act of sharing those things we have with those who do not.
These things are not limited to foods that we may love, but include our homes, our ability to come to the aid of others and our hearts. We are called to help the poor, the homeless, the naked. For in doing so, we shall find that the healing is actually our own healing and the light that shines forth is actually our light.
Jesus says, “Then you shall call and the Lord will answer; you shall cry and he will say, Here I am.”
With these words we find abundant comfort and mercy.