Readings for Friday March 11, 2011
First Reading: Isaiah 58:1-9
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 51
Gospel: Matthew 9:14-15
Lo, on your fast day you carry out your own pursuits, and drive all your laborers. Yes, your fast ends in quarreling and fighting, striking with wicked claw. Would that today you might fast so as to make your voice heard on high! Is this the manner of fasting I wish, of keeping a day of penance: That a man bow his head like a reed and lie in sackcloth and ashes? Do you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD? 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 he will say: Here I am! (Is 58:3-9a)
Have you ever heard the phrase, "you've made your bed, now lie in it"? This phrase basically means that however we do something (making our bed), we are going to have to deal with the consequences of our actions (lying in it). So if we make a bad bed, then we are going to have to lie in a bad bed; however if we make a good bed, then we will get to lie in a good bed. It is good for us to think about this phrase as we are in the beginning of lent.
This time of lent is a time of prayer and fasting; sadly many people look at fasting as something that is burdensome. As we read from Isaiah, the Lord does not want us to fast so that He can punish us or so that it ends with us in worse shape than before. This is not the type of fasting the Lord asks of us. The Lord wants us to cooperate in fruitful fasting; fasting that actually allows us to gain something. Fasting that actually brings about a deeper conversion, and love for the Lord and His ways. Our fasting is something that is supposed to help us realize that we don't need the things of this world, we have all we need with God. Fasting is one of the ways that we are able to come to this realization.
So the question to ask yourself as you go through this lent, is what kind of bed are you making for yourself? Are you really stretching yourself, really trying to grow and make this a fruitful time, or is it just another thing to do? At the end of lent, your prayer and fasting will have either made you a better son or daughter of God, or it will not. What kind of bed do you want to lie in?
Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Thank you for your love and your mercy. Lord, help us to not never to stray from you. Lord, help us to not be tied down to things of this world, and cling only to you. Lord thank you for this time of lent, help us to each make ti fruitful and a time of growth. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.