Wednesday of the First week of Lent
"This is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly" (Is 58,6)
On Fasting ; SC 349 "This is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly" (Is 58,6)
The Ninevites fasted with a pure fast when Jonah preached repentance to them... This is what is written: “When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way, he repented of his blazing wrath” (cf Jon 3,10). It is not said that: “He saw a fast of bread and water, with sackcloth and ashes” but that: “they turned away from their evil deeds and the wickedness of their works”. For the king of Nineveh had spoken and said: Every man shall turn from his evil way and from the violence he has in hand” (v.8). It was a pure fast and it was accepted...
Because, my friend, when we fast it is always the abstaining from wickedness that is best. It is better than abstaining from bread and water, better than “afflicting oneself, bowing the head like a reed and lying in sackcloth and ashes” as Isaiah says (58,5). In fact, whenever people abstain from bread, water or whatever food it might be, when they cover themselves in sackcloth and ashes and afflicts themselves, then they are loved, beautiful in the eyes of God and accepted. However, what please God most of all is: “...to release those bound unjustly and break the bonds of deceit” (cf. v.6). Where these people are concerned: “their light shall break forth like the dawn and their vindication shall go before them. They will be like a watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail” (cf. v.8-11). They will not be like the hypocrites who “neglect their appearance and put on a gloomy look” so that their fasting may be known (Mt 6,16).
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