February 28, 2006


Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of the penitential season of Lent. According to ancient Christian tradition, the 40 days before Easter (excluding Sundays) are a time of repentance and reflection inspired in part by the story of Jesus fasting for 40 days in the wilderness prior to beginning his public activity.

Fasting is a traditional Lenten practice. It is also a good time to remember that for many people, fasting is not voluntary and every day is Lent. Our old friend Isaiah, a frequent guest on the Goat Rope, has some powerful things to say about this:

Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, 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 him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?...

If you take away from the midst of you the yoke, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday...

And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in.

Isaiah, 58:6,7,9,12


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