Salt. Light. A wooden cross. A trembling voice. An untied rope. A song of praise.
These are humble signs of God’s initiative in our world.
Open our eyes, Lord, that we may see.
Isn’t this the fast I choose: releasing wicked restraints, untying the ropes of a yoke, setting free the mistreated, and breaking every yoke? Isn’t it sharing your bread with the hungry and bringing the homeless poor into your house, covering the naked when you see them, and not hiding from your own family? Then your light will break out like the dawn, and you will be healed quickly. Your own righteousness will walk before you, and the Lord’s glory will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and God will say, “I’m here.”
~ Isaiah 58:6-9
Saint John Chrysostom, an early church preacher from the 4th century, is quoted as saying: “When you are weary of praying and do not receive, consider how often you have heard a poor man calling, and have not listened to him.”
In this passage in Isaiah, the prophet connects our response to those in need around us with God’s response to our needs, because fasting and prayer are not self-centered activities done for selfish reasons. On the contrary, God calls us through spiritual disciplines to share our bread with the hungry and our homes with the homeless; and more than that, God wants us to keep giving, up to and including giving of ourselves, our hearts, and our compassion.
We are called to think of the needs of the people around us by not being concerned with how our acts of kindness will benefit us but how they may be a gift of freedom and of life to those in need.
~ Sarah H. Boatwright
Thank you, Lord, for all that I have and am. Please help me to give selflessly of myself and my gifts to others. Amen.