Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “The wedding guests cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Today’s reading turns my understanding of Lenten fasting on its head. “Do you call this a fast?“ I hear surprise and even anger in this question. Do you call this a fast?! God might even ask me, regarding my attempt to give up meat again this year, or refrain from the Tuesday box of donuts we sometimes luck into at the office. Instead, I am given alternatives. They trip down the page like poetry, a litany of justice. Untie and break yokes. Release. Set free. Feed and shelter and clothe. Don’t turn your back on your own.
Here, fasting is not refraining or cutting out: fasting is action. Fasting is rolling up my sleeves and doing the Gospel work of justice and mercy. In the face of our current political climate, with proposed policies that embrace further yoking and oppression of the marginalized, how might I plan to act this Lent?
—Catherine Ruffing Drotleff serves as the Director of Development for the Ignatian Spirituality Project.
Holy God, as Lent begins,
may I carry out in word and in deed
all that you ask and invite. Amen.