20th Feb Lent Reflect



Isaiah 58:1-9


“To fast or not to fast…!” is that the question?

Wednesday’s reading gave us some guideliness for our Lenten journey. The prophet Joel (2:12) said: ‘come back to me with all your heart, fasting, weeping, mourning.’ Jesus too spoke about fasting in Matthew’s Gospel (6:16): “When you fast…”.

Still, in today’s first reading some people in Israel seem to be questioning: ‘Why should we fast if you never see it, why do penance if you never notice?’ (Is 58:3)

God’s answer is clear and precise. “Look, you do business on your fast-days, you oppress all your workmen; look, you quarrel and squabble when you fast and strike the poor man with your fist.” (Is 58: 3 – 4)

Then God continues: “Is not this the sort of fast that pleases me – it is the Lord who speaks – to break unjust fetters and undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and break every yoke, to share your bread with the hungry, and shelter the homeless poor, to clothe the man you see to be naked and not turn from your own kin?” (Is 58: 6 – 7)

Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, martyred in 1980 in San Salvador, who would soon be beatified once said: “There is a criteria by which to judge if God is near or is far away. Everyone concerned about the hungry, the poor, everyone who has vanished in police custody, for those who have been tortured, for prisoners, for all people who have suffered, these have God close at hand.”

Practical Suggestions

  • Through the prophet Isaiah we are asked to convert, remove all types of violence towards others and care about them. How does this apply to your life at home, at school, at work, in your community?
  • Read what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says on fasting and the conversion of the heart (CCC 1430)
  • Look for St Francis’ prayer: “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace” and make it yours during this Lenten season.


Lord Jesus, help me rediscover fasting in a new way. Help me remove every form of violence and oppression in my life and make me an instrument of your peace. Amen




+Bishop José Luis Gerardo
Diocese of Ingwavuma