Friday 3rd March – Friday after Ash Wednesday
Reflection: Isaiah 58: 1-9
A PLEASING PENANCE
A hungry man, they say, is an angry man. As the call to fasting, prayer and almsgiving is emphasized this season, we must not fall into the trap of being “angry” as a result of “hunger”. Our penance is aimed at putting our flesh underneath and seeking to love God in our neighbours. Hence, for it to be rewarding, our penance must be pleasing to God. In today’s reading, God reprimanded the Israelites through Prophet Isaiah because their penance was accompanied by dishonesty, oppression and quarrelling; He told them clearly that their penance had no reward: “Fasting like yours today will never make you voice heard on high…” (Is 58:4). On the other hand, He called them to seek for justice and be generous with corporal works of mercy – feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless etc.
Dear friend, what acts of penance have you set out to undertake this season? Let these acts be marked by an honest desire to seek out the needs of those around you. As you do this, God promises that: “your light will shine like the dawn and your wound will be quickly healed over. Your integrity will go before you and the glory of the Lord behind you. Cry, and the Lord will answer; call, and he will say, ‘I am here.’ (Is 58: 8-9).
Every day of Lent, look out for a need in someone around you: maybe a need for money, attention, care, a listening ear etc and meet that need in love. Let your acts of penance truly please the Lord throughout this season and bring relief and joy to others.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, please help me to extend my hands generously to others this season so that my penance may be pleasing to you. Amen.
Faith Pearls: YOUCAT 450 – What are the “corporal works of mercy”?
To feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick and the imprisoned, and bury the dead
Hide a Treasure: “Is not this the kind of fast that pleases me: To share your food with the hungry; to bring into your house the homeless poor, to clothe the naked when you find them and not turn away from your own kin” Isaiah 58: 6a,7 CCB
Today’s Readings: Isaiah 58: 1-9; Ps 51: 3-6, 18-19; Mt 9: 14-15