Friday after Ash Wednesday A

Meaning of Fasting

I don’t smoke during Lent.” The story is told of a priest who was coming back to his parish house one evening in the dark only to be accosted by a robber who pulled a gun at him and demanded, “Your money or your life!” As the priest reached his hand into his coat pocket, the robber saw his Roman collar and said, “So you are a priest? Then you can go.” The priest was rather surprised at this unexpected show of piety and so tried to reciprocate by offering the robber his packet of cigarettes, to which the robber replied, “No, Father, I don’t smoke during Lent.”

Giving up smoke on one hand, but robbing on the other hand and called it Lent? In today’s Gospel, the disciples of John asked Jesus, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast much, but your disciples do not fast?” How did they fast, we might ask? Prophet Isaiah helps us understand by pointing out some points reported in today’s first reading saying, “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?” To this way of fast, the Lord replied saying, “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.” How beautiful it is that we are invited to please God by reconciling with God and reconciling with one another. Lent is not all about rituals, prayers and fasting for others to see, but it is rather a time to reconcile with God and with one another through good words and good deeds with one another. How do you fast? Why do you fast? The Decision is yours.

 

Weekday Homilies 2019

Homilies by Fr. Joseph Thang Nguyen


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