Author: Chad Hyatt
Reflection: v. 6-7, ‘Isn’t this the fast I choose… to share your bread with the hungry?’
Why is it when we fast as communities of faith that our fasting looks more like what Isaiah says God doesn’t want rather than what he tells us God wants? Humbling ourselves, bowing down, and ashes—even if we do forego the sackcloth—we have aplenty. But where is sharing our food with the hungry and bringing the homeless poor into our homes, working to break apart unjust systems and casting aside our violent, finger-pointing ways? Fasting is so much more than giving up something. Fasting is a form of protest. When we fast, we call on God to break into our weary world with saving justice. Yes, when we fast, we deny ourselves some aspect of our basic needs for a time—but not because we are unworthy of having our needs met. We fast as a protest that proclaims every human being has a right to the same things we all need to live and thrive. To deny ourselves in such a purposefully symbolic way is an act of solidarity with all who are suffering. When we fast, we sign with our bodies that we are both complicit in the shape of the world as it is and that we are willing to collaborate in its wholesale liberation. Fasting becomes an act of turning our hearts toward justice. But as Isaiah reminds us, it is not enough to deny ourselves only for a time. In fact, it is less about calling ourselves to account by what we give up than it is by what we do in relationship with others. This Lent let’s do more. Let’s fast by denying ourselves some food or comfort for a season in solidarity with those who cannot escape hunger or affliction. But let’s also share our table with the hungry and find ways to comfort our sisters and brothers who are suffering. Let us break the yokes of systems that oppress others and lift heavy burdens together instead of expecting others to carry them. Let’s stop all of our angry and self-righteous finger-pointing that scapegoats and demonizes other human beings created in the holy image of God. Let’s stop threatening violence and using it against our sisters and brothers. Let’s put an end to exploiting others, especially laborers, and make sure everyone can enjoy the dignity of work. Repairing the world, as Isaiah calls us to do, is hard work. But this Lent, let’s make a start of it together.
Prayer Saving God, we long to give you the fast you desire—our justice.