READINGS for 2007-02-23

Didache | Companion | Sabbath



The people ask,?Why should we fast when the Lord never notices?? ? Isaiah 58:3

There came a point in my life when I wanted to stop doing good. Why? It was because I thought God never took notice of what I did.
      I gave alms to the poor.
      I helped my less fortunate students.
      I played with my orphan neighbors.
      I provided well for my family.
      I had a regular prayer time.
      In short, I was counting my good deeds before God because I thought He was irrational and unfair.
      At that time, my spirit was crushed and I was almost defeated by problems. Then, God made me realize one important thing. We were all created because of His goodness. So, all my little acts of goodness don?t come from me. They all spring forth from God?s abundance and I am just His mere instrument. Shame on me. RosAnn J.

God is watching. Feel His love.

Help me remember You are omniscient and omnipresent, ever attentive to me.



Isaiah 58:1-9

Penances that are directed toward aiding others are far better than those that are self-focused. Particularly in today?s world with the focus so often turning inwards to my needs and my desires, a penance that challenges us to look beyond ourselves and to recognize and do something about the needs of others has far greater merit in the sight of God than self-focus. Yes, there is a need to address our own sins but when it comes to doing penance let us allow ourselves to truly make reparation to the Body of Christ through acts of charity and mercy.

1 Cry 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 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. 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, 5-6ab, 18-19

R: A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.

1 [3] Have mercy on me, O GOD, in your goodness; in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense. 2 [4] Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and of my sin cleanse me. (R) 3 [5] For I acknowledge my offense, and my sin is before me always: 4 [6] Against you only have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight. (R) 16 [18] For you are not pleased with sacrifices; should I offer a burnt offering, you would not accept it. 17 [19] My sacrifice, O GOD, is a contrite spirit; a heart contrite and humbled, O GOD, you will not spurn. (R)


Matthew 9:14-15

Fasting for the sake of fasting is useless. There ought to be a reason for our fasting. Fasting ought to direct our thoughts and efforts to the call to holiness. Fasting from the full complement of one day?s meals helps us to realize that we do not have to be in submission to the cry of our bodies and passions all of the time. We have a moral responsibility to exercise self-control regarding all of our appetites whether they are for food or pleasure. As such, fasting in relation to any of these can be a helpful spiritual exercise if we direct it properly.

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.?

my reflections
A penance that challenges us to look beyond ourselves and to recognize and do something about the needs of others has far greater merit in the sight of God than self-focus.



God?s special verse/thought for me today________________



Thank You Lord for: ____________________________________


READ THE BIBLE IN ONE YEAR Deuteronomy 31-34



It ought to be impossible for any Christian to live in peace while there are people who are unjustly treated anywhere in the world. This may sound a little unreasonable but let us reflect upon it for a moment. It is certainly true that God will never rest at peace while there is still injustice in the world and it is from this basis that the same can be said for all who are seeking to develop the heart of God for His people. At the same time, it is important  to note that I am not saying that everyone is necessarily responsible for the injustice that may exist. We may or may not be practically able to contribute to its elimination. However, at the very least we can be praying that someone will be actively working against whatever the injustice may be.
      Let us look a little more closely at our individual situations in terms of looking at the society in which we live. I am not about to give an analysis of any individual society here but there are a few broad strokes that we can look at such as: Is there an equitable distribution of the wealth of the society in our immediate neighborhood/city/nation? If not, what practical steps am I taking to DO WHAT I CAN to address this inequality? I will be the first to admit that probably no individual has the power to change such inequality, but each of us does have the power and indeed responsibility to actively work towards closing the gap between rich and poor. Exactly what this work might be will depend on the resources and gifts of the individual as well as the situation they find themselves in.
      The gap between the rich and poor in Jesus? time did not really change much if at all, however, what we see Jesus doing is giving at least as much attention to the needs of the poor and sinners as He does the rich. This was a radical departure from the normal practices of His time and something we must seek to imitate today. Fr. Steve T.

REFLECTION QUESTION: Where can I help in bringing greater equality to the lives of those around me? Are there sacrifices I should be making in order to do this?

Jesus, grant me the grace to grow less selfish and more generous as I deepen my commitment to work for greater justice and fairness in my society.

St. Polycarp of Symrna, pray for us.

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