Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
During the Lenten season, Christians around the world partake in the practice of fasting. Fasting is the tradition of abstaining from food for a set period of time. While this custom is often a spiritual discipline which leads to greater faith in God, or allows space in one’s life for God to speak, that is not always the case. In the passage above, the community is being called out for the misuse of this practice. Instead of only requiring the abstaining from food, God reveals to them the kind of fasting required; the kind that changes society to be more just, brings freedom to the oppressed, and cares for the poor.
We are more than halfway through the Lenten season, and maybe you have chosen to observe it by fasting from something–a certain kind of food, television, social media. Maybe you intended to fast, but haven’t stuck with it. Or, maybe the idea of fasting sounded too daunting to you. Regardless of how you have chosen to observe this season, we are all called to the kind of fasting God presents in this passage. God does not only require our thoughts and prayers, but invites us to participate in the work of justice, which leads to the liberation and reconciliation of all people.
As we continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, we also invite you to participate in the work of justice. Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) has many ways for you to engage in this work, through signing our action alerts to communicate with your elected officials, learning the various narratives in our Pilgrimage to Peace (P2P) tours, staying informed by reading our weekly bulletin, and learning and engaging in advocacy at our advocacy summits. We invite you to make these actions a part of your fasting during this Lenten season, and to carry them with you throughout your life. We are all called to the work of justice, caring for the oppressed and the poor.
We pray that our fasting reflects the kind of fasting you choose in this passage–to work for justice, bring freedom to the oppressed, and care for the poor. We continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and we do so not only with our words, but also with our actions.
We join St. Mother Teresa in her prayer for the poor:
Make us worthy, Lord, to serve those people throughout the world who live and die in poverty and hunger. Give them through our hands, this day, their daily bread, and by our understanding love, give them peace and Joy.
In the name of Christ, we pray, Amen.
This devotion was written by Molly Lorden, the CMEP1835 Coordinator for Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP). She is also currently studying toward a Master of Divinity at Princeton Theological Seminary.
CMEP is very thankful for the writers who contribute Spiritual Resources. However, CMEP does not necessarily agree with all the positions of our writers, and they do not speak on CMEP’s behalf.