Fasting is making God present by creating a space within us for others

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40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday after Ash Wednesday, 24 February 2023
Isaiah 58:1-9   ><}}}}*> + <*{{{{><   Matthew 9:14-15
Photo by author, Dead Sea oasis, Israel, 2017.
Forgive us, O God,
merciful Father,
for refusing to grow up,
for refusing to mature in
your Son Jesus Christ
in loving you,
serving you,
relating with you.
Until now, O God, 
we choose to act immaturely,
believing in ourselves as if we
know everything very well,
even bragging to you of our
goodness and holiness;
like the people in the time of
Isaiah, we are so proud,
"seeking you day after day,
desiring to know your ways, 
like a nation that has done
what is just and not abandoned 
your law, O God, even asking you
to declare what is due to us,
pleased to gain access to you,
God" (cf. Is. 58:2).

Lo, on your fast day you carry out your own pursuits, and drive all your laborers. Yes, your fast ends i quarreling and fighting, striking with wicked claw… This, rather, is the fasting that I wish… then you shall call, and the Lord will answer, you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am!

Isaiah 58:3b-4, 6, 9

Until now, 
we do not fast
and we refuse to fast,
citing so many reasons
and alibis because 
until now we have not
learned the essence
and importance of fasting;
help us grow,
help us mature in Christ!
Let us realize the essence
of fasting is creating a space 
within us for you, O God, 
through others whom we
lovingly serve in your name
to make you present among us
so that when we call, we hear
you say "Here I am!"
Help us grow deeper
in you, O God, in Jesus
who had come to us so
that our spirit of fasting
may come forth from within
us, not from outside that
make us focus more on what
to avoid; it is not the thing
outside that fasting is concerned
but of what is inside us
we are willing to surrender,
to forego, to give up
in order to have you
present among the least
and neglected.  Amen.
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