READINGS for 2006-03-03
FASTING and SACRIFICE
?This, rather, is the fasting that I wish?? ? Isaiah 58: 6
Of course I don?t eat meat during days of fasting and abstinence. But I don?t eat meat on any other day either. I?m a vegetarian. (Well, a flexitarian.) Isaiah 58 (6-7) could not have said it better on the true essence of fasting: "This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: Setting free the oppressed. Sharing bread with the hungry. Sheltering the homeless. Clothing the naked. Not turning your back on your own.?
My fasting, my sacrifice is to continue to ?die a little?? so that others may live more.
How can you ?die a little? today so that others may live a little more?
Lord, teach me to naturally give myself to others and find real joy in it.
The truest fast in which we all must partake is the fasting from doing evil. That is sin! If only we were all more successful at doing this, the need for corporal penances such as fasting from food or something else would not be necessary. It is the discipline of such a practice that is most helpful to our spiritual journey. Fasting teaches us that it is possible to control the various appetites of our bodies.
1Cry out full-throated and unsparingly, lift up your voice like a trumpet blast; tell my people their wickedness, and the house of Jacob their sins. 2 They seek me day after day, and desire to know my ways, like a nation that has done what is just and not abandoned the law of their God; they ask me to declare what is due them, pleased to gain access to God. 3 ?Why do we fast, and you do not see it? Afflict ourselves, and you take no note of it?? Lo, on your fast day you carry out your own pursuits, and drive all your laborers. 4 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! 5 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? 6 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; 7 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. 8 Then your light shall break forth like thedawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed; your vindication shall go before you, and the glory of the LORD shall be your rearguard. 9 Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer, you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am!
P S A L M
Psalm 51:3-4, 5-6, 18-19
R: A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
1  Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness; in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense. 2  Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and of my sin cleanse me. (R) 3  For I acknowledge my offense, and my sin is before me always. 4  Against you only have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight. (R) 16  For you are not pleased with sacrifices; should I offer a burnt offering, you would not accept it. 17  My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit; a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn. (R)
It is as though Jesus is saying that His presence is enough to inspire His disciples to order their lives and their appetites in a good manner. However, the day will come when personal discipline will become a bigger issue for them and they will discover the necessity of fasting themselves. I hope and pray that we all recognize the great benefits that corporal penances bring our spiritual lives when they are entered in a healthy way.
14 Then the disciples of John approached him and said, ?Why do we and the Pharisees fast [much], but your disciples do not fast?? 15 Jesus answered them, ?Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.?
T O D A Y ? S BLESSING LIST
Thank You Lord for: ______________________________________
READ THE BIBLE IN ONE YEAR Judges 10-13
FAITHFULNESS TO ONE?S CALLING
One of the important things we have to learn is how to be a ?team player.? By this I mean that we have to learn to trust that others will do whatever it is that God wants them to do and that we ought to concentrate on being faithful to our own life calling. If all are faithful in living out the calls that God has placed upon our lives then all will be well; however, if one or more of us fail in our tasks, then there will be consequences for us.
It is a bit like being the members of a school project. It is easy to see here that if even one person does not do their part adequately, then it is possible that the final product of all of the others may come to nothing!
In today?s Gospel, Jesus confirms that the roles of the disciples of John and His own disciples are different. This is not to say that certain aspects of these roles, such as fasting, may not change in the future. However, for the time being the key is that each is faithful to what God calls them to do. In the Church, this is what Paul understands to be having a ?body mentality.? By this, Paul recognizes that each member of the Body of Christ has been given specific gifts to be used for the building up of the Kingdom of God. Each one of us has a specific role to perform in this regard and we should always be aware that this ought to be a primary focus in our lives.
When we are trying to fulfill a particular role or task it may mean that we have to prioritize certain lifestyle commitments over other ones. There are times when we work or study particularly hard as deadlines or exams approach. This does not mean that we are saying that resting or ?having a good time? are bad things, but that at this time we have other priorities that we need to fulfill. Let us be flexible in the way that we approach our Christian commitments, not in order to justify being slack, but always in order to remain faithful to our particular calling at that time of our journey in faith. Fr. Steve T.
Lord Jesus, help me to grow in freedom to express myself in the way that I do things for You. I pray for the grace to be flexible in the way that I fulfill my commitments to the work of the Kingdom of God as long as I do fulfill them! Help me to encourage others to express themselves more freely as well.
St. Cunegundes, empress, pray for us.
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