Homily for Friday after Ash Wednesday Year A
Theme: The Fasting That Pleases God
By: Fr. Evaristus Abu
Homily for Friday February 28 2020
(Read Isaiah 58:1-9, Psalm 51, and Matthew 9:14-15)
“Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with a wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high. Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a man to humble himself?” (Isaiah 58:4-5)
The disciples of John asked Jesus: “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” It is possible that the disciples of Jesus were fasting but did not show it. As Jesus told us in our Gospel passage on Ash Wednesday: “When you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. … When you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret.” (Matthew 6:16-18)
However, even if the disciples of Jesus were not fasting, there was no need to fast because Jesus, the bridegroom, was right there. We should not fast because it is a fasting season or because everyone around us is fasting. Our fasting must have a genuine purpose and must be done according to the mind of God.
Fasting is not merely a deprivation from food or other pleasurable things, it is a spiritual exercise that involves our whole being. If while fasting, we engage in quarrelling, fighting or acts of wickedness, Isaiah says, our fasting will not reach heaven.
If you must fast, let not your hunger become an occasion for anger or bitterness. It is better to eat well and control your temper than to allow your hunger to push you into sin.
As Isaiah teaches in our first reading today, the type of fasting that pleases God is: “to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, to break every yoke… to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him” (Isaiah 58:6-7)
Fasting is good but your fasting is useless if nobody benefits from it. Fast from selfishness, fast from self-centeredness, leave your comfort zone, visit the poor, the lonely, the oppressed.