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?
7 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?
8 Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you,
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am. (Isaiah 58:6-9)
- Contrast between the fast in previous verses and this one that brings good
- Vss. 6 and 7: a fast from doing wrong and from avoiding doing right
- To fast, to sacrifice and then to use that to relieve those who have not
- The Lord responds to those who act justly and righteously
As followers of Jesus, as those who trust in his grace and depend on his salvation, it is easy to forget the need to do something righteous as well as to be righteous. It is not enough to lay claim to the righteousness that comes by faith – that righteousness needs to overflow in acts of mercy and of love.
The image of this as fasting is captivating to me. Real fasting – and probably by extension other spiritual disciplines too – is a transformative work. To fast is to make room for God to do these things in us and through us. To let my hunger point me to the one who is really and always hungry.
O God, hear me pray today and lead me to the fast Isaiah saw – a fast that fills the space around me with what is right, an emptying that leads to real fullness in me and others. My my light break forth like the dawn today. May my cries for help be heard because I have heard the cries of others. Amen.