Friday, February 24, 2012

This is the way we do it: Fasting.

Isaiah the prophet during his Tim Burton phase
The 1st reading from today's Mass is Isaiah, in his usual affable form, telling the Israelites just what a fast is:
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.

Granted, it's easier to lie in sackcloth and ashes. Even to eat veggies over meat. But fasting, in the Judeo-Christian sense, inspires action. Now all of the above commands from Isaiah are not readily available to us. So here's my DIY Isaiah fast:
releasing those bound unjustly, (how about pulling back on judging others or gossiping about people you don't know anything about? Maybe just not gossip at all!)
untying the thongs of the yoke;(not that kinda thong! But think about relieving someone of a debt. Do you hold something against someone? How long do you need to hold that?)
Setting free the oppressed,(although we live in a very free nation, there are still those who are oppressed. Have you engaged politically in understanding the issues that effect the poor or the Church?)
breaking every yoke;(what's holding you back? Alcohol? Drugs? Laziness? Facebook?)
Sharing your bread with the hungry,(can you be more disciplined in snacking and eating? Think about buying a meal for someone. Tip your server! They depend on your giving for their daily bread.)
sheltering the oppressed and the homeless;(if you can't give financially, give intellectually. Be involved with the Oxford Homelessness Task force or the Interfaith Compassion Ministry. St. John's is your ticket to either.)
Clothing the naked when you see them,(not necessarily that girl crashed on your couch after the swap but, yeah, she counts too. How about cleaning out the closet and giving to Goodwill? Passing on some unused clothing anonymously to someone who is needy is like being a secret Santa IN SPRING!)
and not turning your back on your own.(Call your Mom! Text your brother! Forgive family. And enjoy them.)

For more, check out today's reading and see what happens when you fast Isaiah-style.