February 19, 2021 – Friday after Ash Wednesday
Fr. Gibo Dandoy, CSsR
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/021921.cfm)
Today’s readings highlight one of the main components of the season, which is Fasting. In our Catholic Tradition, we are taught that fasting is a spiritual exercise cum discipline as our way of repentance and penance for our sins which greatly hurt God and others. We practice this spiritual discipline to teach, train and tame not only our physical bodies but more so our interior self.
St. Paul warns us, saying: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places (Eph. 6: 12, NASB).” Through fasting, we arm and ready ourselves when forces of evil attack us day and night.
However the Lord, in the book of the Prophet Isaiah, had to correct and re-orient his people as to the kind of fast he so required: “Is fasting merely bowing down one’s head, and making use of sackcloth and ashes? Would you call that fasting, a day acceptable to Yahweh? (v. 5, CCB).”
He questioned their kind of fasting and showed his displeasure with their shallow observance of religious rituals. They acted pious and yet their attitude and lifestyle betrayed their faith in God.
“To free those who are wrongly imprisoned and to stop oppressing those who work for you. Treat them fairly and give them what they earn. I want you to share your food with the hungry and to welcome poor wanderers into your homes. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help (vv. 6-7, NLT).”
These, brothers and sisters, are what pleased God, and is what genuine fasting all about! Lastly, let us however do all of these in secret, and the Father who sees us in secret will recompense us (Mt. 6:4). Amen.